Gowanda hears complaints about eliminating services


OBSERVER Staff Writer

GOWANDA – Residents came out in support of retaining village services at a pair of public hearings held recently at the village hall. The Gowanda Village Board eliminated the animal control and assessor positions when the board passed its annual budget in April.

The village decided to eliminate the position due to duplicative services; the town of Persia has an assessor and the village uses the town’s assessments. The town also has a dog control officer which responds to calls within the village and all dog license fees are paid to the towns.

During the public hearing for the elimination of the animal control officer, many residents as well as some town of Persia board members, spoke out against the elimination of the position. Paula Schueler, Persia Town Board member, said the elimination of the positions will cost the town more money, which the town has not budgeted for.

“I know our dog warden would do a great job but request you wait until after December 31,” Schueler said.

Gloria Tomaszewski, also on the Persia Town Board, said the town dog control officer is only licensed for dogs and not wild animals. Current dog control officer Mary Dankert also spoke during the hearing. Dankert said there is money in the budget to be used to save the $4,000 position. The village does not pay Dankert, who pays for her equipment and mileage out of her own pocket, said she hasn’t had a raise in over 10 years.

“The village (residents) seem to want me,” Dankert said.

During the public hearing for the assessor position, many residents spoke in favor of keeping the position. Schueler spoke and told the village board the town is not ready for the expense and asked the village to once again wait until Dec. 31. She also said the town and village has different exemptions which could cause problems. Resident Janet Vogtli said she has talked with other towns that have taken on village assessor positions. She said the assessors who have taken over for villages are already doing the work, so there is no additional work.

George Stark, village assessor, said the village is “moving way, way too fast” with eliminating the position. He said the town and village have two different fiscal calendars. The village is also in two different counties – Cattaraugus and Erie counties – which would also complicate items. Stark said the village should work on the matter for another year to educate the public before eliminating the assessor position.

Following the public hearings, the village board went to vote on the elimination of both positions. Trustee John Certis said he did not feel comfortable making a decision due to the number of residents who showed up to voice their opposition.

Trustee Dale DeCarlo said the village has never taken care of dogs within the village and it has always been the town’s dog control officer.

If the village were to restore the positions, the village would amend the budget, raising taxes and subsequently going over the tax cap. The village would have to use reserves since tax bills are already scheduled to print. The board did not make any decision and will discuss the matter again at its next meeting on May 28.

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