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Mannsville weighs effects of dissolution proposal at public hearing

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MANNSVILLE — The proposed dissolution of the village into the town of Ellisburg left many residents at a public hearing Tuesday night questioning why it was necessary and what services could be lost, despite possibly hundreds of dollars in annual property taxes savings for both village and town residents.

“When we look at what our tax dollars pay for ... are we willing to give up services that those two, three, four hundred dollars a year pay for?” said Valerie A. Deon, a village resident and member of the village dissolution committee. “If everyone votes no, we’ll still have our village, and if we don’t we’ll become a part of the township.”

About 35 residents came to the village fire hall, Main Street, to hear a draft plan about dissolution, which has been in the works for more than a year.

Jill Symonds, a research associate for the Center for Governmental Research, Rochester, who researched the effects of dissolution, outlined some of the outcomes of dissolution for the village and its approximately 350 residents.

n The village could see reductions of about $38,000 in annual pay by eliminating the positions of its elected representatives along with administrative and public works staff.

n While the town may continue maintaining the village park, collecting storm debris and plowing, sanding and sweeping streets, it will not plow the church, museum, library or fire department, hang Christmas lights, pick up leaves or clean and flush fire hydrants, services all now done by the village.

n Residents in the village would still be on the hook for street lighting and water costs, with its debts being carried over into a village water district in the town.

n Village laws would remain in effect for two years, at which point the town could decide to affirm or reject them.

However, Ms. Symonds’s presentation noted dissolution could result in heavily reduced tax rates, especially when factoring in the state’s Citizen Empowerment Tax Credit, which rewards municipalities that merge or dissolve. The credit would equal about 15 percent of the combined village and town budget, or about $136,000 per year.

With dissolution and the state credit, the village’s tax rate could fall from $5.40 per $1,000 of assessed value to $2.90, a 45 percent reduction. In the town, the credit would push base rates from $2.40 per $1,000 of assessed value to $1.90, a 20 percent drop.

However, some residents worried that the state would pull the funding in the years after a decision was made.

Michelle A. Slade, who lives on Mill Street, expressed concerns that the town has not locked into what services it would offer.

“Just because we know what we want now, and we know what we have, doesn’t mean that will be there when we dissolve,” Mrs. Slade said.

A final dissolution plan from the committee is scheduled to be ready for submission to the village Board of Trustees by the end of November. If there are no changes to the committee’s timetable, the board would vote on dissolution in January, and the decision would go up for a public vote in March.

The next public hearing to discuss dissolution is scheduled for Nov. 19. The Ellisburg Town Council will discuss the matter at its Nov. 8 meeting. More information about the village’s dissolution plans can be found at www.cgr.org/mannsville.

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