Note: Richard Tjoa of Suffern won The Rockland Express “Unofficial Mayor” contest this month. He joins us as a guest blogger. Here’s his latest post.
Hello, my fellow Rocklanders.
Unlike my unofficial peers across the river, here in Rockland I’m less of an Unofficial Mayor and more of an Unofficial County Executive.
Which got me thinking: How do you view local government? What kinds of roles do you see village, town, and county government playing in your community? Do you feel there’s too much overlap, or
do you think that each level has a vital role that can’t be entrusted to a greater entity?
My take on government is that each “larger entity” can enlist economies of scale (buying power), perhaps perform tasks that would “only come occasionally” to the smaller entities (increasing resource
utilization), or can eliminate a boundary that doesn’t make any sense. For example, policing.
From experience, I believe an area like law enforcement could definitely take place on a “larger scale,” with fewer individual departments. Last year, I wanted to tell the police about a bad driver on the Thruway. After being transferred from 44-Control (the county’s 911 center) to the State Police, I told them that the bad driver took exit 14 for route 59 in Nanuet, and at that point, they wanted to refer me to another agency.
But, which one? Town of Clarkstown? Maybe Ramapo? Perhaps the Village of Spring Valley? It all depended on which way they went. Alas, I was driving onward to Suffern and didn’t know. Why should ordinary citizens be the one to figure out which law enforcement agency is the right one? I could
only hope that driver didn’t get into any trouble.
On the other hand, zoning is something that towns and villages care a lot about; the state, less so. The officials in charge should have an intimate understanding of what kind of growth their community wants and can sustain. Still, one would hope that villages would be “good neighbors” to neighboring areas and wouldn’t, say, put their waste transfer station “right on the border.”
Anyway, I was hoping to hear some of your thoughts on the role of local governments, places where we could consolidate, and others where we shouldn’t.