Matt's Memo: Consolidation Attempt

A major spike in property taxes motivated enough people in the Oneida County Village of Whitesboro to call for a vote to dissolve the village. Tonight we learned that one time spike was not painful enough to convince a majority of village voters that dissolving the village was in their best interest. Voters defeated the dissolution plan by a nearly 3 to 1 margin.

This slow rolling wave across the state of communities deciding whether to dissolve governments or consolidate has not reached a tipping point. Seneca Falls and Altmar decided to dissolve. People in Scott and Whitesboro did not.

New York State created a streamlined process two years ago to allow people a chance to rid themselves of longstanding governments. Whitesboro is just two years shy of its Bicentennial. It has history on its side. Yet still some people cared enough to try to end that run short of 200 years.

The people who run the village worked to inform voters about the shortcomings of this process. Whitesboro did not enjoy the same thoughtful process as Seneca Falls in the run up to the vote. Seneca Falls had a dedicated committee working out many of the details of dissolution and consolidation. Whitesboro voters had a list of unknowns before them as they voted tonight.

It appears they voted against jumping into the unknown. They may also have been proving what many of us already know, people do not like to give up their level of comfort even if there is the possibility of modest savings on their tax bill.

There will be more attempts to consolidate. Communities with a motivated group will learn the best way to reasonably consider the significant change. In the end the truly significant tax savings does not come from ending 200 years of history in village. It comes from Albany and Washington where the major dollars are spent.

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