Consolidation deserves look

Inside the borders of Montgomery County sit one city and a total of 20 villages and towns.

That’s 21 municipalities – hamlets not included – serving a population of 50,219 people as of the 2010 U.S. Census.

According to the U.S. Census, the population of the village of Fonda in 2010 was 795 people. The town of Mohawk is home to 3,844 people.

Are two sets of government necessary to provide services for a combined 4,639 people? We’re not sure, but we’re pleased to see the village of Fonda’s leaders looking into forming a committee to research consolidating more services with the town and possibly dissolving the village.

Fonda is a hotbed of American history with many Revolutionary War-related stories. It’s home to important heritage of which its residents should be proud. But it may be time to look at starting a new chapter for the village.

“Ultimately, I’m all for whatever consolidation we can make. If it makes sense and it’s a duplication of services, why not?” Mayor William Peeler said in reference to the possible formation of the committee.

We don’t know if there are enough duplicated services to justify dissolving the village, but we’re sure at least some services could be combined.

This could save taxpayers money, and that’s why the ideas of consolidation and dissolution require study.

According to the New York State Department of State, communities considering consolidation may be eligible for a Local Government Efficiency grant to help with studying the feasibility of consolidation or to help with the consolidation itself.

This isn’t a simple issue. Many aspects of consolidation would need to be worked out. For instance, Fultonville, Mohawk and Glen share water services with the village of Fonda.

The decision to dissolve the village ultimately would be made by the voters – the people who live there.

Considering the population of Montgomery County and the number of towns and villages, we encourage other municipalities throughout the area to study consolidation of services, and if feasible, dissolution.

The same goes for Fulton County – home to 16 towns, villages and cities – and a population of 55,531.

Reducing the size of government and bureaucracy can be a painstaking process, but ultimately, saving taxpayer dollars is beneficial for all.

In 2009, residents in the village of Johnson City in Broome County petitioned their government for a vote on dissolving the village with a population of 15,164 people. The neighboring village of Endicott has a population of about 13,000 people. Both Endicott and Johnson City are part of the town of Union, which has a population of 56,346 people. That’s one town with a higher population than Fulton or Montgomery counties.

The proposition failed by only 42 votes, but it was important for the village to have the vote. If these larger municipalities can have this discussion, so can our local communities.

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