Constitutional Convention

NY ConstitutionOn November 7th, New Yorkers will get to decide on a very significant question that most voters are not aware of: whether to hold a state constitutional convention, the first in a half-century.

While many see this as an opportunity to clean up Albany, changes at the local level could also be considered.

With NYS being a “home rule” state, the state can not require a town to take any action. EXAMPLE: When the NYS Comptroller found that $2,100,000 of Evans Taxpayer’s money was “unaccounted for” and many other accounting irregularities, NYS could only make “recommendations”! Additional investigation by NYS into the “unaccounted for” money was “declined” by the Evans Town Board. The town could not be required to implement recommendations in the state audit(s).

Home Rule was intended prevent the “big” state from dominating “little” towns. As Evans taxpayers have found out, when malfeasance in office occurs, the state can not investigate nor prosecute with out the “permission” of the town board. Then comes the “spin”. There was no wrong doing. The state did not even investigate!

Changes to the state constitution could make it possible for the state comptroller to require towns, like Evans, that are fiscally mismanaged or in high fiscal stress to implement the comptroller’s recommendations. Recommendations in the 2002 and 2012 state audits were mostly ignored. If the state comptroller could have required Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in Evans, the staggering debt would be significantly less.

If the town buys a new truck, the highway department must put purchase out for bid. The bidding process does not apply to professional services like legal, engineering, consulting, etc. This could be addressed at a constitutional convention.

In regards to an alternative to a five member board, the constitutional convention could make it easier for taxing authorities like towns, villages and school systems to merge.

Elma has no town taxes! Evans raised town taxes 20% over the last two years. Maybe the possibility of merging a poorly manage town like Evans into a town with better management would be motivation for local officials to do a better job of managing the town.

A constitutional convention could also make it easier for the state to create a control board for mismanaged towns.

A constitutional convention could make it easier to get these options on the November ballot.

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