(DECEMBER 19, 2021) — Governor Kathy Hochul is considering a new set of intergovernmental transfer payments that are designed to encourage the merger and consolidation of local municipal governments — and she plans to announce the program in her State of the State speech next month.
The incentives are being called ‘The Regionalism Prize‘, in the hope that local municipalities will streamline, consolidate, or dissolve their operations in exchange for infrastructure money that would be used to revitalize local village centers and historic downtown areas.
Use of the money would be limited to streetscape improvements including innovative lighting schemes, public space enhancements, pedestrian infrastructure, facade restorations, street furniture, educational signage, public art, and community-led historic preservation projects.
“We want to invest in communities that are willing to work together and to collaborate,” a Hochul attache explains. “If local leaders are willing to do the hard work of forging a regionalism consensus, Governor Hochul wants to empower those grassroots movements inspired towards regional collaboration.”
Here are some of the details:
Village-Town Merger Prize. Any village board that votes to dissolve its own government in order to merge with an adjacent municipality would be awarded $25 million in revitalization funding. While that funding would be administered by the consolidated successor municipality, it would be designated for use in the village that is voting to dissolve itself.
Town-Town Merger Prize. Any town board that votes to dissolve its own government in order to merge with an adjacent town would be awarded $50 million in revitalization funding. While that funding would be administered by the consolidated successor municipality, it would be designated for use in the principal historic commercial district of the town that is voting to dissolve itself.
Multi-Town Merger Prize. For any three towns that vote to consolidate their governments, the State would award $100 million in downtown revitalization funding, with an extra $50 million awarded for each additional town that is included in the merger. Therefore, a merger of six towns would earn that community $250 million in revitalization funds. Those funds could be used for revitalization initiatives in multiple historic commercial districts.
County-City Merger Prize. For any City that serves as the seat of its County government and whose City Council votes to dissolve and fully consolidate its operations with the County’s operations, that City would be awarded $200 million in downtown revitalization funds. While that funding would be administered by the county legislature, it would be designated for use in the principal historic commercial district of the City that is voting to dissolve itself.
County-County Merger Prize. Any two adjacent county legislatures that each vote to consolidate their operations under a reconstituted legislative body would be awarded $350 million in revitalization funding. That shared fund would grow by an additional $250 million for every additional County that participates in the merger. Therefore, a merger of eight counties would be awarded $1.9 billion in revitalization funds.
The incentive structure is intended to motivate large, multi-government mergers in communities that organize themselves aggressively enough to secure the majority support of the participating local governments’ legislative bodies.