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From the Desk of Senator Craig Johnson: April 2, 2010

Senator Johnson Introduces Amendments

To Consolidation/ Dissolution Law

Senator Craig M. Johnson, and Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel announce common-sense amendments to the New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act.

This legislation (S.7238/ A.10432) was introduced after consultation with the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), the Association of Towns, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), and the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York.

The New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act, commonly known as the Consolidation/ Dissolution Law, was signed into law last year and took effect March 21.

“The consolidation/ dissolution legislation was flawed,” said Senator Johnson, who was the only member of the Senate Majority to vote against the bill. “What Assemblywoman Schimel and I are proposing are steps to fix these flaws and protect our constituents’ quality of life. I thank FASNY, the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York, NYCOM and the Association of Towns for partnering with us on this very important issue.”

The amendments include:

Fixing a flaw in the law to ensure that no government entity is dissolved unless it is approved by the residents of that entity;

Requiring that residents are provided with important information before a vote, including how a dissolution will change their property taxes and how it would affect state aid to their communities;

Creating common-sense time limits on dissolution petitions and, in the event that a dissolution vote fails, prohibits another vote for four years. Both steps will help protect communities from parties, some of which may be from outside the community, from abusing this law with open-ended petition drives and costly  rapid-fire elections to achieve their goals.

“Although the goal of the consolidation/dissolution law is laudable, it presents some technical issues that need to be addressed to prevent legal challenges to the local governments, fire districts, and special districts attempting to consolidate or dissolve. These chapter amendments address those concerns,” said Assemblywoman Schimel, a member of the Assembly’s Committee on Local Governments.