Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shortchanging Rome is Shortchanging Utica . . .

 . . . and the Country Bumpkin legislature explained . . .

From the Sentinel: Redistricting plan shortchanges Rome, legislator says
The legislature is being shrunk from 29 to 23 seats following a public referendum in November. The proposed districts have a target population of 10,046. . . . Utica would have six legislative districts wholly within the city boundaries. The county’s largest city now has eight city-only districts. Rome would have only one district that is solely inside city limits while five would be city-town districts. Minority Leader Frank D. Tallarino, D-7, Rome, objects to this aspect of the plan. He says the population for Rome is large enough to have three districts within city boundaries.
Mr. Tallarino raises an important point ... and people in Utica  and Villages need to pay attention. 

Viewed from the prospective that the county is a provider of municipal services (roads, police, 911, sewer, airport, economic development, etc.)  all the municipalities within the county are not created equal.  There are "taker" munis and there are "provider" munis.  The Cities and Villages generally provide for their own services such as police and highway maintenance, but their residents also pay to provide such services to outlying areas, so Cities and Villages are "provider" municipalities.  Towns, on the other hand are "taker" municipalities.  Just drive through New Hartford and Whitestown in all the newly developed areas around Middlesettlement Road and you see blue county highway markers everywhere. People in Utica, Rome and the Villages pay to maintain these roads, but there are no county highways within the cities or villages.

Add up the populations of Oneida County's cities and villages and you come up with more than half of the population concentrated into urbanized areas  But representation on and the outlook of the County Legislature is decidedly tilted toward the Towns.  While it would be difficult to forge districts made up of far-flung villages, it is important that a majority of districts represent reflect a city/village perspective -- because the people in these jurisdictions are bearing the costs of duplicate services.

Diluting City of Rome with the Town of Rome dilutes the urban perspective on the County Legislature.   While this is obviously bad for Rome it is also bad for Utica because Utica loses allies with those of similar interests.

The redistricting plan must be rejected.  Rome needs more city-only districts.


Anonymous said...

Strike, I'm a Whitestown resident, please provide actual data that supports your theory that I live in a "taker" muni. Although it is true some City of Utica taxpayer money goes toward maintaining county roads in Whitestown,isn't it also true that Whitestown taxpayer money goes toward services in the Ciy of Utica, such as, expensive entitlement programs? It's not fair to separate out certain services and neglect to account for others that the "taker" munis provide to the "provider" munis. Let's tally up everything and see where it all shakes out. Do you have data? I don't , but , my guess is I'm getting the short end of the stick.

Strikeslip said...

I knew someone would bring up entitlement programs and the fact that persons on social services are concentrated in the cities.

Four points need to be made in this regard: (1) Social services are provided to individuals and are not a benefit provided to the cities. (2) Social service clients are concentrated in cities because towns have not constructed public housing for the region's poor. (3) It is advantageous to the region to concentrate the region's poor in the cities because it allows services to be delivered to them more efficiently. (4) For many years cities were responsible for their poor which led to an exodus to the Towns of the people who did not want to pay taxes for them. The poor will forever be among us and to the extent they are properly the government's responsibility everyone should pay for them.

No I have not done an analysis of financial data. Rather my conclusions are drawn from looking at various levels of government and the services people pay for. Because each muni is a bit different what may be true at one place may not be true elsewhere ... but generally people in cities and villages pay to provide services to themselves and then pay again to provide then to outlying areas in the county. Some village residents pay for village streets, town highways AND county highways. It is our organization of government that is the problem. It all made sense when almost everyone lived in the cities and villages. When towns get heavily populated like NH and Whitestown, they should be treated more like cities and villages.

Anonymous said...

County Legislator (Jim D'Onofrio, R) appeared before the New Hartford Town Board this past Wednesday evening telling the public how wonderful he thought the new redistricting was...

Surprise, surprise, up comes County Legislator (Dave Gordon, D) and he tells the attendees that it was a bad redistricting plan.

Perphas, it was the intent of the Republican controlled legislature to do their own form of gerrymandering?

Now, what makes me think this???