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The new law provide protection for the rest of the state but does little for GreenburghIt's important for residents to be informed
Much has occurred in recent weeks related to the issue of the proposed incorporation of Edgemont and after a great deal of analysis, now is an appropriate time to share perspective. I would ask that residents bear with me and read this entire eblast. Although it is involved and voluminous, it is also critically important to you. Less than two weeks ago, the Town Board was provided with a study, contracted by NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and prepared by the Pace University Elizabeth Haub School of Law. The study is titled “Village Incorporation in NYS, Legislative Options for Reform.” The study can be viewed utilizing the following link. bit.ly/villageincorpreport NYS Village Law controls the processes and requirements for incorporating a new village and contains the formal “roadmap” which Edgemont has used twice, and we have been told will soon be employing once again, to attempt to incorporate, separate from Unincorporated Greenburgh, by becoming an independently governed village. The report was extensive and found a significant number of issues with what I believe to be outdated, inequitable NYS Law. I would urge you to review the Pace study. Utilizing the findings of the Pace study, our NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins wrote and sponsored new legislation which I believe to be a solid first step in providing equitable requirements and standards for incorporation. The Bill S 7537 in the NYS Senate may be reviewed by utilizing the following link, and I urge every Greenburgh resident to do so. Please be sure to closely study the last paragraph of the Bill. bit.ly/stewart-cousins In broad strokes, S 7537 requires: The incorporation committee to provide Edgemont residents with fiscal information related to operational and capital costs for a new village as well as property tax implications. In addition, it requires the incorporation committee to provide information regarding who will provide services to the proposed village, (PD, EMS, DPW, library, etc.) the level of service and their costs projected going forward. This information was previously not required.2- The incorporation committee must also provide operational and capital, fiscal information to the residents of the balance of the Unincorporated Town of Greenburgh, as well as an impact study on the effects of incorporation on their services and property tax implications, as well. 3- Perhaps the most significant change contained in S 7537 is the creation of a new and independent “Commission” which would have a great number of important decision-making capabilities. The Commission would have the following responsibilities and powers: Contract for two independent, outside fiscal, capital, property tax and service-related studies, one for the proposed village and one for the remaining town. A study of this type was funded by a $100,000 grant provided by Senator Stewart-Cousins as part of the 2023 budget passed in early May. At the moment it is unclear if this specific study to be conducted by the Rockefeller Institute will have an impact on this legislation. However, the results of the study would be forwarded to the Legislature for consideration for future legislation. The Commission would replace the Town Supervisor as arbiter for the “sufficiency” of the petition. The Commission would have the right/responsibility, after review of the incorporating committee’s and outside agencies studies, and petition documents, to determine if the proposed incorporation was in the best interest of the proposed village and the remaining town and to decide whether the petition process should go forward or that it should be terminated. This is a power that the Town Supervisor never had and a critical protection for all. The Bills, S.7537, (Senator Stewart-Cousins) which revamps the entire village incorporation process along with a bill which requiring a study to be conducted in the existing structure of village incorporation Bill S.7538, (Senator Skoufis) each passed in both chambers of the NYS Legislature this month, and if signed by Governor Hochul, will become the law of NYS, at that time. The Skoufis bill is linked here: bit.ly/skoufis Extremely regrettably, although these Bills offer protection for the other 20 million residents of NYS, they offer little to nothing today, in the form of protection for Unincorporated Greenburgh. The Stewart-Cousins Bill exempts Edgemont from all requirements of 2-259, which includes the input and actions of the newly formed “Commission,” removes the requirement for outside independent fiscal reports, and returns the responsibility for determining the “sufficiency” of the petition to the Town Supervisor.This exemption was heartbreaking for me, as so many of our residents have worked so very hard, organizing to amend NYS Village Law, and had reached out to our lawmakers in Albany to frame the elements of the Bill. It seems counterintuitive to me, that a Bill approved by the Legislature would barely apply to those who fought so hard to have it enacted.In addition, the incorporation committee’s responsibility to provide financial reporting, even though it is unverified data and has no effect on the outcome of the process, would only apply to Greenburgh after it is signed by Governor Hochul, possibly several months from now, allowing more than ample time for the Edgemont Incorporation Committee to file their petition, unrestricted by any part of the new legislation. Once again, I urge all residents of the Town of Greenburgh, the Unincorporated Town and our six Villages, to read the study and the Bills and be informed.Respectfully submitted, Paul Feiner, Greenburgh Town Supervisor