Linda Leavitt’s letter [“Thoughtful editorial on Senate proposal hit the mark”, June 14] in support of the Inquirer’s editorial supporting the rights of only Edgemont to vote on incorporation does not hold together and her conclusions are inaccurate. The reason for the fiscal imbalance (Edgemont pays 27% of the taxes and is about 17% of the population) has nothing to do with anything but the property values in Edgemont versus the balance of Unincorporated Greenburgh. Properties in Edgemont are of significantly higher value than comparable properties in other parts of Unincorporated Greenburgh.
In regard to the makeup of the Greenburgh Town Board, I agree that the villages should not have a say in the election of officials who control the unincorporated budget. However, four out of five town board members, including Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, live in Unincorporated Greenburgh. In addition, a simple solution would be to incorporate all of Unincorporated Greenburgh so services would remain intact without the severe cuts resulting from Edgemont’s incorporation.
In regard to the editorial’s and Ms. Leavitt’s passionate plea for the voting rights of Edgemont, how about the rights of everyone else in Unincorporated Greenburgh? The remainder of Unincorporated Greenburgh will be more affected by Edgemont’s incorporation than Edgemont. The people in Edgemont are better financially equipped to absorb the inefficiencies of creating another layer of government (particularly given they plan to pay for a lot of this by not replacing Edgemont’s current tax contribution to Theodore Young Community Center and to parks and recreation, saving $2 million alone). The remainder of Unincorporated Greenburgh will have to figure out through higher taxes and/or service cuts how to manage the community center and parks and rec — not to mention significant revenue losses to the police and other services. Given this impact, shouldn’t they have a say in all of this?
Edgemont already has 100% control over services that represent approximately 70% of their property tax bill (the school and fire districts). Nonetheless, the voter turnout for the boards that control these budgets as well as for the budgets themselves has historically been less than 10% — among the lowest turnout in all of the lower Hudson Valley. I find it odd that these people are screaming about taxation without representation when: 1) they don’t vote, and 2) they want to foist a huge new tax burden on the remainder of Unincorporated Greenburgh without allowing them to vote.
Finally, if local control of land use is really the hot button issue driving incorporation, there are ways of addressing this issue without creating all the inefficiencies caused by creating another layer of government. It would start with the community participating on a more regular basis in land use meetings. It is rare that there are more than a few community members at any of these meetings. Second, state land use laws could be modified to give more local control. I would be happy to work with the community on this.
Bottom line, incorporation is a giant step in the wrong direction and all those affected should have the right to vote on it.