How To Make A Law In Gardiner
By Laurie Willow
From Issue 30: Spring 2016
Did you ever wonder how a law is created in Gardiner? First of all, there is a difference between a law and a resolution. A law sets policy. There are consequences for not obeying a law.
A resolution, on the other hand, is the town board’s official recognition of an action or event without actually making law. For example, a resolution was passed changing the fee schedule and hours of operation of the Gardiner Recycling Center. Another example of a resolution declares the month of May to be Gardiner’s Building Safety Month, sponsored by Hank Vance, Building Inspector.
Resolutions don’t have the force of law, though if passed, they certainly tell the public which way the wind is blowing. Some resolutions simply mark a fiscal event or recognize a contribution, to name just a few uses of resolutions. An example of a law, on the other hand, is our law that mandates Planning Board members must have certain hours of education on town law.
By the time a law “goes on the books” and actually changes the way we live, it has traveled a long road. This road begins with someone’s (or a committee’s) idea about how to fix a problem, streamline a disorganized procedure, or create something new. That individual or committee must then bring the idea to the supervisor or to a Town Board member who can introduce the concept to the board. In addition, the Association of Towns, a local organization of which Gardiner is a member, researches a proposed law to check on its constitutionality and, in cases where the proposed law will impose fees on the public, check on its legal ability to do that.
There is an established procedure for making a new law and there are guidelines to follow from New York State. If there is a general consensus on the Town Board after the concept is introduced, the draft law usually goes to an attorney hired by the Town for correct wording. Once the draft of the law is written and reviewed by the Supervisor and the Town Board, it goes to public hearing at a Town Board meeting, focusing on input from citizens of Gardiner. Using this feedback, and further discussion, the proposed law may be amended, scrapped or continue in its original form. Finally, the Town Board votes on whether or not to create the law.
If you want to see the law of the Town of Gardiner, you can go to the town website at http://townofgardiner.org. Do you think you have a good idea for a new law in the Town of Gardiner? Let’s say you want a law with penalties for keeping a building on Main Street vacant or with the grass wild. You would contact a Town Board member and discuss it with him or her. Become part of the process!