Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fairview Fire District Granted $45K for Consolidation Study

New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez today announced that the Fairview Fire District has been awarded a $45,000 Local Government Efficiency grant to study the feasibility of potential consolidation, merger, or cooperative agreement with one or more of its adjacent fire districts.  This grant is the latest in a series of initiatives at the state level in recent years designed to streamline local governments and reduce property taxes.  Cortés-Vázquez concurrently announced similar grants to four other local governments, none of which are fire districts.

Recent History of State Initiatives on Improving Local Governments

The recent state initiatives began in April 2007 with the creation of the New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness by Gov. Eliot Spitzer.  The final report of this Commision, in April 2008, emphasized local government consolidation as a principal means to improve efficiency and reduce costs.  New York State law at that time made it almost impossible for local governments to consolidate.  Since then, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began promoting changes to state law to facilitate consolidation and dissolution of local governments.  Last summer, a new state law — the New N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act — was enacted, making it substantially easier for fire districts like Fairview to consolidate or dissolve.  This law goes into effect in March 21, 2010.

Good News for Fairview Taxpayers

Today's announcement is good news for the Fairview Fire District, which has the highest fire tax rate in Dutchess County, and possibly the highest fire tax rate in New York State.  Many Fairview officials and taxpayers have been receptive to the idea of consolidation and improved efficiency.  The study which this grant will support is a necessary and significant step towards achieving some kind of restructuring that could significantly lower fire taxes for Fairview property owners.

Many thanks to Virginia Buechele for alerting me to today's announcement.

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