What’s the Cost of Fire Safety in Your Community?

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Paul BishopAccording to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association and the United States Fire Administration, from 1995 to 2010:

  • The number of residential building fires fell 15%.
  • The number of deaths and injuries in residential fires fell 31%. [i] [ii]
  • The number of paid firefighters increased by 30% and the number of volunteer firefighters decreased by 8%.[iii]

With the increase in dependence on paid staff, there has been an increase in cost for the fire service. From 1995 to 2008, the cost of Local Fire Protection has increased 65% to an inflation adjusted $39.7 billion.[iv] Read more »

One Seneca Falls – from Concept to Reality

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Scott SittigOn January 1, 2012, the Town of Seneca Falls became a unified municipality for the first time since 1831.  Communities across New York State have their eye on Seneca Falls to see what lessons can be learned from the dissolution of the historic village.  As the largest village to dissolve in New York State, the process and outcomes will serve as a great test case for many years to come.  However, some may be prone to draw conclusions from the outcomes that aren’t warranted.

Dissolution studies in most villages are initiated by citizens or elected officials because they believe it will save them money.  The most common argument is that two layers of government are more expensive than one, and eliminating a duplicate layer must produce savings that will cause a tax bill to go down.  When CGR models the fiscal impact of dissolutions cost savings are typically modest, usually in the 3-10% range.  This was true in Seneca Falls as projected cost savings were a little over 7% of the combined budgets.  Cost savings was not what pushed the lever in favor of dissolution. Read more »

State Initiative Need to Spur Reinvention of Local Government in NYS

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Charles ZettekKent GardnerOn April 12 the Dyson Foundation/Marist Poll released the first statewide survey of NYS residents’ opinions on local government consolidation (see www.nylocalgov.org). While restructuring is central to Governor Cuomo’s strategy to cut the tax burden, the results suggest that change will be slow without further state action.

  • Support for restructuring is hardly universal, despite the bewildering complexity of NYS local government.
  • Support varies by function: Highway services are more readily shared than public safety or education—why?
  • Experience shows that the status quo is hard to dislodge, even where support is strong. How might state action spur cost-effective re-invention?

Read more »