For the second year in a row, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a bill sponsored by Assemblyman James Skoufis that would give counties greater oversight on annexation petitions.
The bill would require county planning departments to review any annexation bid and give an advisory ruling on whether it should or should not proceed. For the decision to be overridden, a supermajority of four out of five members of each municipal board that would be affected by it would have to agree to the override.
In his veto statement dated Sept. 29, Cuomo said it went against the state’s constitution that gives a county oversight only if the annexation would affect the county’s border.
Skoufis responded in a statement that that argument “flies in the face of reality,” and said he thought Cuomo’s decision was politically driven.
The bill was not unconstitutional, said Gerald Benjamin, a government expert and associate vice president for regional engagement at SUNY New Paltz.
He wrote in a Sept. 14 letter to the governor that the bill would grant counties similar authority they already have over other local land use decisions, and urged the governor to sign it.
The bill was introduced last year after the Village of Kiryas Joel sought to annex 507 acres of land from the Town of Monroe. The town board voted to allow 164 acres to be annexed.
Skoufis said he would continue to introduce the bill if he is re-elected in November.
Apparently unaware that Skoufis sponsored the legislation, his Republican opponent for the 99th Assembly District, Colin Schmitt, took the opportunity to lambast the governor for vetoing it, and Skoufis for not stopping “Kiryas Joel’s uncontrolled and unchecked growth.”
“Skoufis has had four years to fight Kiryas Joel’s uncontrolled and unchecked growth and all we’ve seen from Mr. Skoufis have been press releases, broken promises, and not a single tangible accomplishment,” he said in a statement.
Skoufis countered in an email that he was the first legislator “in many decades” that has passed a bill in response to a Kiryas Joel-related action.
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