Panel ‘reviewing’ latest reductions

Small strides, but some progress. That was the update from Fredonia Trustee Joseph Cerrie in regard to the consolidation discussions he announced in January between the village and town of Pomfret.

He said part of the talks over the last five months have included the 1982 study titled the “Report from the Committee on Village Government.” The report, put together more than 30 years ago by a committee of five, offered the suggestions of maintaining the status quo, having the village dissolve into the town or having a co-terminous agreement where the village extends its borders to the town.

As you know, the first choice won by default when the report was completed due to the fact it was turned in and then sat on a shelf.

Cerrie, however, says the current committee is doing its homework. For instance, one Pomfret trustee has had conversations with Randolph, which voted to dissolve its village in 2010. Another trustee is talking with other entities that recently dissolved villages into the towns.

“We’re reviewing studies … and we expect to open it up to participation from residents,” Cerrie said in regard to the consolidation committee.

Those invitations to residents could come as early as July, but there is no other timeline as of yet. “Between the two municipalities, the demographics have not changed much (since the 1982 study),” he said.

But costs of running local entities have increased to the point where taxpayers and businesses can no longer be counted on to bail out our overabundance of governments and school districts. In the village of Fredonia alone, the budget has nearly doubled in the last 20 years.

In 1993, the village budget was $5.5 million. Today, it is near $10.7 million – a 95 percent increase.

If the demographics remained the same – and we know there are fewer businesses – then that means property owners’ tax costs have accelerated as well. In the meantime, Seneca Falls – located in the Finger Lakes – voted to dissolve its village and become part of the town three years ago.

The savings? With one less layer of government, former village residents are paying about $450 less in property taxes. Residents there did gripe, however, about increased water rates.

That will not be an issue in Fredonia. The village already raises those rates far too often.

Gas prices are always too high, but some lucky reader will be the recipient of $200 in our fuel give-away contest. Our office received more than 1,500 entries for our second contest of this sort.

The winner of the contest will be notified on Monday by phone and will be announced in an edition next week.

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 366-3000, ext. 401.