Opponents of Edgemont’s incorporation have advocated to amend the village incorporation process by subjecting petitions to an additional vote, open to the entire unincorporated area. Indeed, one objector at the recent petition hearing called for just that. As an incomplete sound bite, it is superficially reasonable. Why not let people vote on things that they believe affect them?
It is, of course, a specious line of reasoning, if not outright sophistry. If the argument is that all unincorporated town residents should vote on all town matters that they believe affect them, fine. By extension, then, unincorporated residents should vote on villages’ municipal affairs if we believe their policies affect us.
For example, every year Greenburgh’s six incorporated villages continue to choose to govern themselves is a year that the unincorporated area has nearly $10 billion less in assessed valuations for homes which comprise its tax base. Imagine the savings to Edgemont, Hartsdale, Fairview, etc. if the villages dissolved and turned their local powers over to the town? Key Greenburgh services such as police, public works and recreation could be spread over a now-larger unincorporated population and area. Or, short of full dissolution, the unincorporated area should at least be able to vote on requiring the villages to contract with the town for major services, an approach that would lower costs for all, while keeping control over administration and land use at the local level.
Of course, the very notion that village affairs are anyone’s business but the villages’ is a nonstarter — as it should be. The unincorporated area had no say in how those villages were formed and neither do we (nor should we) have input or voting power over how they govern. If we did, those villages would lack the very characteristics (self-governance and home-rule powers) that make them locally accountable municipalities in the first place.
Mount Joy Avenue