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Community Conversation: Modernizing Local Government. Draft June 20, 2007 WE ARE AT A TIPPING POINT!!! Things could get WORSE, or they could get BETTER! . How You Can Help. Whatever your opinion, help spread the word. Talk to your local representatives – let them know you care.

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community conversation modernizing local government
Community Conversation:Modernizing Local Government

Draft June 20, 2007


  • Things could get WORSE, or they could get BETTER!
how you can help
How You Can Help
  • Whatever your opinion, help spread the word.
  • Talk to your local representatives – let them know you care.
  • Volunteer - join the work group, become a speaker, lead a conversation circle, or whatever!
  • Write a letter to the editor.
  • Connect us to other groups.
  • 423-7832, [email protected]
join the partnership
Join The Partnership
  • Onondaga Citizens League
  • SYRACUSE 20/20
  • Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce
  • Groups participating in the conversation

Citizens Academy (Fall 2006 class) Camillus Rotary

Salina Republican Committee Syracuse Rotary

Association of Town Supervisors Dewitt Rotary

F.O.C.U.S Core Group Meeting

what we all want
What We All Want!
  • Young people staying
  • More and better jobs; growth

.. And local governments helping, not hindering, progress

and maybe we can
And Maybe We Can..!
  • Bring an end to “divide and conquer”
  • Increase strength, pool resources
  • Get better local government services at affordable cost (taxes)
  • Narrow the gaps
fragmented government
Fragmented Government!
  • “Small box” governments ideal in 1800
  • In Onondaga County: 53* local governments, 105 planning and zoning bodies
  • The result: cost, complexity, confusion
  • “It’s easier and cheaper to go to some other region, some other state.”

* 35 municipalities plus 18 school districts.

without local government unity to make our region competitive we get
Without Local Government Unity to Make Our Region Competitive… we get..
  • Loss of young – highest attrition in NY
  • Eventually, loss of baby boomers
  • Poverty concentrated in the city (almost 30% poverty rate, vs. 5% outside the city)
  • Paying for roads, lights, sewers further out, for fewer people
  • High tax burden
the cost of disconnect
The Cost of Disconnect

“ The mismatch between governance and the economy undermines the competitiveness of places by raising the cost of doing business, exacerbating sprawling development trends, squandering urban assets, and deepening racial and class separation.”

Bruce Katz, Brookings Institution, OCL forum, May 17, 2006

top real estate tax burden counties in the us
Top Real – Estate Tax Burden – Counties in the US

1. Niagara (N.Y.) - 2.61%

2. Monroe (N.Y.) – 2.73%

3. Onondaga (N.Y.) – 2.64%

4. Wayne (N.Y.) – 2.61%

5. Chautauqua (N.Y.) – 2.60%

6. Fort Bend (Texas) – 2.58%

11. Tarrant (Texas) – 2.39%

12. Camden (N.J.) – 2.39%

Source: US News & World Report – 12/28/06

reasons for hope
Reasons for Hope
  • $5.4 billion investment on the horizon
  • Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems; CNY as “Creative Core”
  • MDA’s 11-county Upstate Initiative for Economic Growth
  • Growing coordination of workforce development efforts (Journey 2 Jobs)
  • Town-gown relationships at all time best; Connective Corridor
  • .. And several other developments moving forward
cny at a tipping point
CNY at a Tipping Point
  • Can we become America’s New Energy region?
  • It will take unprecedented cooperation among local governments!
  • We must modernize local government .. But HOW?
this is our strategy and you can help
This is Our Strategy And YOU can help!
  • Educate, heighten interest
  • Gather comments and ideas
  • Hundreds of people in conversation
  • Results on a web site
  • Build consensus on need for change
  • Hold a regional summit; make a choice and draft a plan

.. A.Ways to modernize, without changing structure

..B. ways to modernize that require changing structure

Modernizing Local Government
intergovernmental agreements already happening
Intergovernmental AgreementsAlready Happening
  • City-county (library, crime lab, etc.)
  • Town-town, village-town, village-school district, etc.
  • Numerous examples: sharing, merging, subcontracting, joint purchasing, etc.
  • Some local officials are being far-sighted and entrepreneurial – so let’s keep encouraging them!!!
right where you live
Right Where You Live!
  • Money is available to help towns and villages explore ways to modernize –
  • Including the option of MERGER
  • YOU, the citizens, can help that to happen
  • The process: study, hearings, referenda
re organization for efficiency cost savings and quality improvement
Re-organization for efficiency, cost savings and quality improvement
  • County: smaller size of legislature
  • City: SyraStat

Two examples of evidence that even our largest local governments can change if they really want to; BUT THIS IS NOT ENOUGH!

structure change for cities and counties
Structure Change for Cities and Counties
  • What are the choices?

Successful models

from other parts of the country

choice 1 one government for 450 000 people going from 145 th to 35 th
Choice #1: One government for 450,000 people (going from 145th to 35th)
  • One chief administrator elected county-wide
  • One legislature with carefully worked-out districting to ensure balanced constituent representation, plus some “at large” members
  • One judicial system
  • Merged departments and functions
  • Smaller jurisdictions unaffected
  • Would require state enabling legislation plus referenda in both city and county.
a winning strategy
A Winning Strategy
  • A Message that Resonated
    • Unite under one mayor
    • Equal representation on council
    • No change in taxes, services
    • Make Louisville a real “first tier” city

The Final Vote: 54% Yes 46% No

before 2001 and after 2005
Before (2001) and After (2005)
  • Average income from $53,900 to $60,980
  • Population from 693,604 to 705,518
  • 3.5% increase in economy
  • Savings in tens of millions of dollars
  • More people running for office, and more volunteers wanting to help
  • Unprecedented collaboration across a seven-county region – in all sectors, not just government
choice 2 two tier
Choice #2: Two-tier

City and county governments continue separately, but..

  • Certain functions deemed to be best handled independently and across the county as a whole are brought up to a higher level
  • Such as.. Economic development, protection of environment, land use to facilitate in-fill development, etc.
  • If an elected body, would require change in state constitution
miami dade 1957
Miami-Dade, 1957
  • Restructuring achieved after a decade of effort
  • Prompted by growth without planning, crime, economic decline
  • Miami-Dade today..

- state leader in job creation, 4.3% unemployment

- visitor business, IT business booming

- key connection to Latin America

choice 3 three tier or genuinely regional government
Choice #3: Three-tier, or genuinely regional government
  • Several counties involved, in collaboration with all their core cities
  • Creating an “upper tier” body of government, all other governments staying intact
  • Acting for the region as a whole on matters appropriately handled at that level
  • Armed with significant authority over selected matters, and a revenue stream
  • Elected by voters in the region as a whole, or appointed by member governments
  • Would require a change in state constitution
metro portland oregon 3 county elected government
Metro Portland, Oregon (3-county elected government)
  • Established in 1995 after 25 years of talks and steps
  • Some of the Outcomes..

- Strong economic growth

- Outstanding civic involvement

- Sprawl under control

- Poverty less concentrated

- Rejuvenated downtown Portland

what do you think
What do you think?
  • A. Leave local government structure alone.

- Small governments mean local control

- Some people would unfairly lose influence

- It would be too hard to change

  • B. Change the structure.

- System itself hurts the economy

- Voluntary collaboration hasn’t worked

- Fragmented government is weak

- Change has led to growth in other places

  • C. Can’t decide – need more information.
if a leave structure alone
If A: Leave Structure Alone
  • What do you recommend?

- Cooperation among governments is happening naturally; encourage more

- Government representatives across the region should meet frequently to talk about regional needs and collaborate to meet those needs, and save taxpayers money

- The system we have now maximizes freedom of choice – don’t change it

if b change the structure
If B. Change the Structure
  • What do you recommend?

- Encourage mergers among towns, villages

- Dissolve villages

- Merge Syracuse City and Onondaga County into one government

- Centralize certain local government functions (e.g. economic development,

land use planning)

- Create a multi-county regional level of government to handle regional issues

if c can t decide
If C. Can’t decide
  • What more do you want to know?
how you can help44
How You Can Help
  • Whatever your opinion, help spread the word.
  • Talk to your local representatives – let them know you care.
  • Volunteer - join the work group, become a speaker, lead a conversation circle, or whatever!
  • Write a letter to the editor.
  • Connect us to other groups.
  • 423-7832, [email protected]