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Chaumont voters to consider village dissolution at the polls today

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CHAUMONT — Village voters will decide today whether to disband their local government.

If approved, Chaumont would become a hamlet — like Three Mile Bay — as of Jan. 1, 2014, under a state-regulated dissolution process, and the town of Lyme would take over all municipal functions.

Residents voted down a similar dissolution proposal, 129-72, in March 1999. As in the last vote, town of Lyme residents outside the village do not have a say in the matter under state law, although their taxes are projected to increase under the proposed merger.

There are about 300 registered voters in the village with an estimated population of 625, which accounts for 29 percent of the overall town of Lyme population.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and most village residents will vote at the Chaumont Fire Department, 11385 Route 12E.

A yearlong study on Chaumont’s proposed dissolution found village property owners could expect as much as a 49 percent tax reduction. But town property owners outside the village could see an 8 percent tax hike, even with state incentives for merged government entities.

The study was conducted by the Center for Governmental Research Inc., a Rochester nonprofit organization the village Board of Trustees hired.

Overall, CGR said in its report, the merger would achieve a net savings of $27,940 per year through combining resources and eliminating government duplication. This projection takes into account a $30,757 annual state incentive through New York’s Citizen Empowerment Tax Credit program.

CGR estimated a Chaumont homeowner with a property assessed at $50,000 could expect a $252 tax reduction — from $516 to $264 — with state tax credits.

That projection assumes the town budget stayed the same and takes into account “special district” taxes for lighting, garbage and fire protection, basic village services the town of Lyme would manage upon consolidation.

Even without the state incentives, Chaumont’s projected tax rate decrease would be about 46 percent, from $10.32 to $5.56 per $1,000 of assessed value, according to CGR’s report.

On the flip side, because the cost of some general village services would be spread townwide, CGR projects an 8 percent increase in town taxes with incentives and a 20 percent jump without them.

In other words, a town resident outside Chaumont with a property assessed at $50,000 could end up paying $9 to $23 more per year for the sake of government efficiency.

Village officials, including Mayor Valerie E. Rust, have been skeptical of the projections and said they do not trust the Lyme Town Council to follow through with the dissolution plan.

Despite the unanimous objection to the proposed dissolution, Trustee William C. Borden, who chairs the Chaumont Dissolution Committee, had said the village board decided it should let the public determine the village’s fate.

Chaumont was named in 1833 after its founder, James D. LeRay de Chaumont, and was incorporated as a village in 1874.

The Postal Service would continue to deliver mail to “Chaumont” — as it does to the nearby hamlets of Three Mile Bay, Depauville and Redwood — even if it dissolves as a village.

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