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Politics and Government

State Senate leader disagrees with Cuomo's mandatory government consolidation plan

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan

The leader of the Senate Republicans said he’s against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to require local governments in each county to offer government consolidation plans to go before voters in November.

Senate Leader John Flanagan told a meeting of the state’s mayors that the governor’s proposal, while “laudable in its intent,” is too “convoluted” and forces local voters to dive too deeply into the sausage-making of local government.

“Can we try to make sure that we’re being efficient and saving taxpayers money? Yes, absolutely,” Flanagan said. “But a carrot and stick are two different things.”

Flanagan also said he doesn’t think there are too many local governments, as Cuomo has contended. He said if the public thinks the number of local entities is too high, there are ways under the present law to dissolve those governments.

The conference of mayors also opposes the governor’s proposal, calling it “another top-down state mandate that ignores the root causes of high property taxes.” The mayors are asking for $133 million in state aid that they said has been cut in recent years from the budget.

A spokesman for Cuomo responded to Flanagan’s remarks.

“We understand some people want to protect their fiefdoms at all costs, but the governor’s plan is to get municipalities to talk to each other and actually  lower costs for property taxpayers,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. “Theirs is to increase state costs that will be borne on the same taxpayers. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not the answer.”