More than 30% of Edgemont voters have signed petitions seeking a vote on whether Edgemont should incorporate as Greenburgh’s seventh village and exercise the same self-governing powers of our incorporated Greenburgh neighbors (villages of Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Hastings, Irvington and Tarrytown). Strikingly, Michael Schwartz [“Incorporation would perpetuate ‘cumulative inequality cycle,’” April 23] characterized this significant portion of his own community as “insensitive” because Edgemont residents would “take” some of our tax dollars away from the control of Greenburgh’s town board and transfer them to the control of an Edgemont village board instead.
Even if Edgemont incorporates as a village, it will still remain within the town of Greenburgh, just like the town’s existing six villages. As to the portion of tax dollars that would shift, Mr. Schwartz ignores the obvious and well-documented ways the town can mitigate that revenue loss and find opportunities to modernize. These include selling major services back to Edgemont (and perhaps other villages); avoiding additional multimillion dollar land use litigation settlements, whose tab is dumped solely on the unincorporated area; shifting townwide services to townwide budgets, rather than continuing to have the unincorporated area subsidize the incorporated villages; and implementing long ago-recommended operating efficiencies.
These reforms are not uncommon; many municipalities throughout New York and nationally have modernized in this fashion, to the benefit of their taxpayers. Greenburgh is the outlier that refuses to adapt. Many of these changes would benefit the unincorporated area, in particular.
However, Mr. Schwartz apparently believes the town is incompetent and incapable of progressing. The inequality he warns about would only arise from the town’s inability or unwillingness to properly plan for and handle a transition to a smaller unincorporated area. His dim view of Greenburgh’s governing proficiency is core to the opposition’s argument: that Edgemont (or any area of unincorporated Greenburgh) should forever relinquish its rights to self-governance because the town would be incapable of adequately responding.
We disagree. We don’t believe change should be avoided or abandoned simply because the people currently in power are unwilling or unable to move off their comfortable status quo. Indeed, we believe the town could in fact rise to the occasion: the problem is the people running the town would much prefer to maintain the status quo that has politically served them so well to this point. Mr. Feiner, for example, has held his town supervisor position for 30 years; it is no surprise he likes things just as they are.
Incorporation would force the town to practice good government rather than spending its efforts preventing its own citizens from voting. The town board would instead need to use its ample resources to study the matter of Edgemont’s incorporation with the help of unconflicted, outside experts; negotiate in good faith with a constituent village; and think beyond the next election cycle.
A good government response to Edgemont’s incorporation would be uncomfortable to the town’s governing body given its long history of putting politics first, subordinating the unincorporated area’s interests, and generally operating with impunity. But it’s the only real path to a transparent, efficient, accountable and consequently more equitable Greenburgh.
Edgemont Incorporation Committee chairs