Two years ago the residents of the village of Seneca Falls New York (population 6,600), voted to have the village absorbed by the town of Seneca Falls, New York, which had 2,500 people living outside of the village. The vote to dissolve the village passed in March 2010 by only 86 votes — 1,198 to 1,112.

Four months ago the 180 year old village ceased to exist. According to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, “Since 1921, a total of 43 villages in New York have dissolved, including Seneca Falls and five others since 2008. Most of the other villages that dissolved had fewer than 1,000 residents. For example, Perrysburg, Cattaraugus County, had a population of 380 when it dissolved in 2010, while the town of Perrysburg has about 1,200. And Pike, in Wyoming County, had a population of 382 when it dissolved in 2008. The town of Pike had a population of about 800.”

One of the benefits of dissolving the village of Seneca Falls is that village residents have had their taxes decrease more than 48% by consolidating with the town of Seneca Falls.

As fiscal pressures increase on local governments more of them will have to consider the possibility of consolidating/merging with other governments. It is surprising to me as the referenced news article points out, how the loss of identity is difficult even in communities where the village and town that are consolidating have the same name. While I don’t understand paying for and having a village board and a town board in a community of 8,000 people with the same name, it shows how difficult it is to consolidate government.

New York has 62 counties, which are subdivided into 553 villages, 932 towns and 62 cities. While School Districts are a whole separate topic, New York State has 730 of them. New York State has a lot of layers of government and there is plenty of room for consolidation. Six village consolidations since 2008 with the largest being a population of 6,600, shows that consolidation of government in New York is just taking baby steps. As taxes continue to increase and local governments struggle to cut expenses, more communities will have to consider the pros and cons of consolidating/merging with another government.

www.reinventinggov.org