A few months ago some in the Village of Monticello started talk about dissolving that local government and folding it into the Town of Thompson to get a piece of the revenue being generated by the new Resorts World Casino nearby. For some reason, the enabling legislation included towns and counties as recipients but not villages.

This is just the latest, most easily quantified reason to get rid of the smallest form of government in a state which has far too many. There are several estimates around but most agree that New York has more than 3,400 distinct governments, many of them overlapping, and almost 1,000 extra entities that can levy taxes within those governments.

Any time someone suggests slimming down, those who feed at that extensive public trough respond with alarming warnings that simplifying would not save any money, an argument promoted with no verifiable numbers to back it up. Or they point out with the same lack of support that several important services would no longer be provided if, for example, the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson —i see population 3,000 or so — was dissolved into the Town of Cornwall — population 12,000-plus. Nobody mentions that the nearby towns of New Windsor and Newburgh provide equivalent services to populations almost twice as large.

Although the notion of simplifying and economizing comes up regularly, it gets no traction because those who prosper from the present situation are determined to keep it because it works for them. And it is a complex discussion with lots of competing facts, figures and promises.

But every so often, we get a prime example, an impossible-to-ignore lesson. And this one is a doozy.

It started when the boards who run the Town of Woodbury and the Village of Woodbury decided to swap some property. Nothing exciting here except that the borders of the town are virtually identical to the borders of the village. Two governments where one is barely necessary. In an era marked by at least a grudging effort for local governments to share services and expensive equipment, the voters of the town and the village a few years ago decided that they needed more bureaucracy in a misguided attempt to protect their land from the growth spilling over from the nearby Village of Kiryas Joel.

But the swap last fall is not the punch line in this joke. No, that comes more recently with the decision by new members of the town board that they did not like the transfer, did not think that the town got a fair deal from the village and filed a lawsuit.

You might think of this as a family dispute, brother vs. brother. But that analogy works only if one brother sues not his brother but himself. And it works ever better if that brother first agrees with himself, then disagrees, then hires lawyers to settle the dispute.

And you can bet that the town officials and village officials will still insist that there is nothing odd or costly here.

As the comics character Pogo once said in a different context, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”