Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I was very pleased to read that the North County News endorsed a professional study to determine if Westchester, Rockland & Putnam Counties should be merged. The following is an editorial that appeared in the 2/18/09 issue of this publication.
I intend to pursue the proposal.
I also intend to initiate some significant reorganization of local government proposals in the coming months. We need to look for ways to reduce taxes by eliminating unnecessary layers of government.

Department of Redundancy Department

Politicians have a tendency to be reactive, rather than proactive, often to the detriment of taxpayers. The reactionary response of government becomes more evident in a faltering economy. While officials and legislators desperately look for ways to save money during the current economic downturn, they sometimes contradict themselves.

Sharing services was the focus of a roundtable discussion, moderated by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, D-90, and Westchester County Association Chairman and former Lt. Gov. Al DelBello, on Feb. 12 at the Town of Cortlandt municipal building. The forum included 14 local and county officials from Westchester and Putnam who championed the need for more shared services among county, municipalities and school districts.

Sharing services is not a new idea. It is a time-honored practice to reduce costly redundancy by sharing resources with cooperative government entities. Over the past 20 years, the term “shared services” has been slowly adopted, if in limited ways, by some municipalities, but it has not been fully embraced by the 10,500 – count ‘em! – 10,500 individual municipal jurisdictions, including water districts, throughout New York State.

DelBello made several good points during the forum, including the remark that governments around the state operate as if we were still in the 1800s. He also said that while sharing services is a good idea, it is not enough. Municipalities themselves need to consolidate so that there are fewer of them. The same can be said of school districts, which some advocates want to be realigned according to municipality.

A perfect example of DelBello’s point is having two governments in Ossining. He questioned the need for a Village of Ossining government and a Town of Ossining government. Village Mayor William Hanauer said the two governments are working toward becoming one, which is good news, but why is it taking so long? The village and town already share a range of services, but they also overlap in some services.

That kind of duplication overtaxes taxpayers. The village and town have separate police departments. The town of Ossining employs 19 full-time police officers, including the chief, and the village has 59 in its police force, which covers 3.3 square miles with a population of 24,000. The money that could be saved by consolidating the two police departments would amount to millions of dollars in salaries, benefits and pensions.

Cortlandt got rid of its police department 10 years ago, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. The town now pays state and county police about $1 million a year to patrol the 35-square-mile municipality.

As we said, politicians tend to be reactive creatures. Perhaps then, the current economic meltdown will provide enough impetus for our leaders to understand that all this redundant bureaucracy is costly and unnecessary. Perhaps one elected official will have a moment of clarity and will lead us out of the bureaucratic jungle and back onto the path of sane and logical governing.

Perhaps that official is Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, who is leading an effort to explore ways to maintain essential services in the region while reducing taxes. Called Rethinking Westchester, the group’s Website explains it all for you.

Feiner recently noted that “instead of eliminating county government, we could and should explore the value of merging existing county governments. If Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties could be combined into one super regional entity, we might be able to save many millions of dollars. A larger regional governing body, to replace our current three county governments, could easily handle solid waste, health and social services.

“We need a professional study to determine if abolishing county government will save taxpayers significant dollars,” Feiner says. “The study should also provide residents with a roadmap, how this will be done. In addition, a professional study should explore the benefits of combining neighboring county governments. All options to save money should be explored.”

Nothing would be finer than for many other town officials in our region to echo Feiner’s clarity of voice and vision.


Anonymous said...

"I intend to pursue the proposal."
Okay, but please be sure to do this on your own time and not as an employee of Greenburgh.

" ... governments around the state operate as if we were still in the 1800s."
This is especially true of Greenburgh, and fixing this would be more appropriate for your employment responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

talk about tooting your own horn

Anonymous said...

notice that paul is always eager to take away other government employees' sinecures, but not his own.

Disgruntled Greenburgher said...

Of course Putnam and Rockland want a merger - Westchester's property tax base is very significantly larger than theirs - even combined. As County taxes are paid on the basis of ratables (property values for the uninitiated) those with the greatest ratables pay the most. Result? Unless the consolidated 3 county budget is significantly less the the present unconsolidated budgets, Westchester residents will pay more.
Mr. Feiner, please, please, please either take your responsibilities as the Town's Chief Financial Officer as seriously as you take your re-election campaigns, or stop running period. Financial ignorance is unacceptable in a Town Supervisor - and this whole consolidation mania you have succumbed to smacks of a charlatan's attempt at misdirection.

Anonymous said...

This will all pass soon. The up-side is that this silliness may end up harming Mr. Feiner's chances of being re-elected in Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh. Are we actually paying Paul to lobby for this crap?
You're fired for spending too much "company" time on your personal BS.

Pack up & go!

Anonymous said...

FYI Paul

By shrinking government you will eliminate your position. I would think before you Blab.

ed krauss said...

Apparently, supervisor Feiner has heard the various and sundry avertising commercials stressing, "size does matter," and is listening.

When, under his co-leadership, an ad hoc organization called "Rethinking Westchester's,'proposal to eliminate Westchester County government was found to be contrary to the results among independent authorities that have seriously studied that proposition, Rethining Westchester "rethought" and dropped "Plan A' and advocated a bigger and "better" Plan B-"consolidate Westchester, Rockland and Putnum county governments.This "new"Proposal DuJour, unique in its concept, is unique because it does not pass the common sense's not workable, doable, practical or has no chance of being implemented.In other words, it's A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME.

Yet, Mr. Feiner, like Don Quixote, and without Sancho Panza, pursues yet another "Impossible Dream." If like Cervantase' hero he had no other responsibilities, it would be another of Feiner' Follies. But, Mr. Supervisor has a plethora of problems here in Greenburgh town that need his undivided attenion.And to quote the Jounal News editorial, "SupervisorFeiner, how about cutting out the nonsense and lending a hand in the real world."

I enthusiastically endorse that sentiment and add. "if charity begins at home, so does good governance."

P.S. I'm really sure the North County residents in Waccabuc, with its FIVE ACRE ZONING, "really' want to be part of Putnum or Rockland. And I'm equally certain the newspaper's endorsement was not based on a poll of its residents.

Let's hope the sequelto "Rethinking Westchester I" and "Rethinking Westchester II' Is START THINKING GREENBURGH-the folks who pay for the time you spend Rethinking everyone's problems but OURS!