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Part I of this Article discusses many of the factors contributing to the fiscal crisis at the local level in New York including historic decreases in federal and state revenue sharing, the imposition of a new property tax cap, the failure of New York to address meaningfully the subject of unfunded mandates on local governments, and the dependency of some local jurisdictions on the timely adoption of a state budget. Part II discusses concepts of deliberative democracy and how local residents might be engaged to become partners with local officials in making difficult fiscal decisions that impact all community residents. Public polling, participatory budgeting, collaborative decision making, and citizen advisory committees are all examples of models promoted as methods for enhancing civil discourse and public engagement in helping to set local fiscal priorities. The Article concludes in Part III with a recognition that “business as usual” in New York is simply not sustainable and that while the state must do its part to ease some of the fiscal burdens, local government officials must return to the people who put them in office to seek more frequent input in an organized and methodical manner by employing one or more of the deliberative democracy techniques discussed in Part II.

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39 Fordham Urb. L. J. 727