While they acknowledge it would be a drastic measure, two town supervisors from southern Delaware County said Thursday that the idea of having their municipalities break away from the state of New York and attach themselves to Pennsylvania has enough allure to warrant serious study.
“It’s basically a way of saying: We’re still here but we’ve had enough of this crap,” Masonville Town Supervisor Mike Spaccaforno told The Daily Star.
Spaccaforno and Hancock Town Supervisor Sam Rowe are among 15 town leaders affiliated with the small but spunky Upstate New York Towns Association, a group that believes seceding from New York and joining Pennsylvania is an idea worthy of exploration.
Frustrations with state government actions in Albany, Spaccaforno and Rowe said, have been particularly intense since the adoption of the controversial gun control measure known as the SAFE Act two years ago.
This disgruntlement flared anew in December when many local officials complained their most valuable resource — natural gas deposits trapped below the Marcellus shale formations — would go untapped after Cuomo administration said it would not permit hydrofracking in the state due to concerns with the potential health impacts. It didn’t help matters when, at about the same time, a special panel picked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo opted to not recommend a casino license for the Southern Tier.
“Let’s face it,” said Spaccaforno, a Vietnam veteran who runs a specialty glass business in Trout Creek, Forno Enterprises. “The state has been running over us for the longest time. We’re losing our youth to other places. Nobody wants to be here.”
From the eastern edge of Delaware County, Middletown Town Supervisor Marjorie Miller questioned whether a small splinter group such as the Upstate New York Towns Association could gain any traction with its ploy of threatening to secede from the state, arguing municipalities are better off working with the more mainstream Association of Towns.
“I think there is a general misunderstanding of just how much tax revenue is paid into the New York state budget by the metropolitan New York City region,” Miller said. “We’re at a disadvantage. But we have to be smarter about the way we lobby for our needs, which are different from the metropolitan areas.”
A pro-secession town official from Broome County, Conklin Supervisor James Finch, conceded the call to break away from New York is far-fetched. But he said it sends a message to Albany that there is great dissatisfaction in his region to the direction of the state.
“The southern Tier has been squashed twice now between gas development and the casinos,” Finch said. “We have no jobs. I don’t know how it is up in Oneonta, but things aren’t good here. Everything goes to New York City. New York City doesn’t want gas drilling because they’re concerned about their water. Maybe we should sell them their water. They’d rather buy their gas from Pennsylvania or Canada or Colorado.”
Finch acknowledged that to be successful the succession push would need the approval of the state governments of New York and Pennsylvania as well as the federal government. “But maybe it will light a fire,” he added.
State Sen. Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, who represents many of the towns involved in the secession call and is personally close to Cuomo, urged his constituents to sound off on the proposal in a flyer he included in a recent mailing to residents of the Senate district, which includes the Delaware County towns of Deposit and Hancock.
Said Rowe: “I’m sure that there are people that I represent that are split on this issue, as they are on every issue. If a study is completed, we’ll research it and share it with our folks.”
This article was written by Joe Mahoney from The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.