Conklin, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The local economy is pushing one organization in Upstate New York to pose a question: Is it possible to secede to Pennsylvania?
The Upstate New York Towns Association is researching this very topic. The group says a few factors pushing its research are high property taxes, low sales tax revenue and the recent decision to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York.
"The Southern Tier is desolate," said Conklin Town Supervisor Jim Finch (R). "We have no jobs and no income. The richest resource we have is in the ground."
Finch said the ground in Conklin is rich with natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. However, that shale is unable to be tapped. He described this ban as a violation of his natural rights as a property owner.
There are 15 towns interested in the secession, according to the Towns Association. These towns are in Broome, Delaware, Tioga and Sullivan counties. The association declined to name the towns without their permission and also declined to comment on specifics at this time. As of now, research is ongoing. The group will be updating Action News with all of their findings in the coming weeks.
The association said it's comparing taxes and the cost of doing business in the two states. It says the facts show there is a huge difference between the two.
Also being considered are things like workers comp, surcharges, unemployment and health insurance. The association's understanding is that the secession would have to be approved by the New York State Legislature, the Pennsylvania State Legislature and the U. S. government.
"We're comparing the taxes in Pennsylvania compared to those in New York," said Finch. "There's a great, great difference. Right now, we are being deprived of work, jobs and incomes."
Action News spoke with two local business owners in Conklin about the proposal. John Gage, owner of Reliable Market, said he fully supports the idea.
"The tax structure in New York is just horrible to do business in," said Gage. "Whether it's fracking, or other reasons to secede, it sounds like a good idea to me."
However, other local owners are taking into account outside factors that could affect their stores. For example, state licensed shops would be at risk if the change were to occur.
We thought the article was interesting because Binghamton is adjacent to Susquehanna County in Pennsylvania whose county seat is Montrose, the place of my grandfather's birth and my great-grandfather's death. There are all kinds of Newtons, Bolles, Birchards, and Hastings people born and buried in that neck of the woods.