On a quest

FORESTVILLE – The Forestville Dissolution Committee hosted a guest at its meeting Wednesday to explain more about state assistance.

Committee members met with Department of State Land Use Training Specialist Christopher Grant to ask questions and see what options the state can offer the village.

Village Clerk Jim White began the meeting by sharing that the village has been in contact with the Center for Government Research and Southern Tier West to see what an efficiency study would cost. At the time of the meeting White only had a response from CGR which gave two options for a study; one which would cost the village $23,000 and the other which would cost $12,000. White added at this point the village only has funds earmarked in the amount of Trustee and Committee Member Ron Lineman’s village board stipend, which he said he would put toward the study.

County Legislator Rod Rogers, ex-officio committee member, asked if the state could offer the same services at no cost to the village.

Grant explained the state can do financial analyses on the village to determine if there would be cost savings in dissolution, shared services or functional consolidation, but the village will have to compile a list of assets and debts and also consider what local laws and village services it would like to maintain.

It was explained that if the village were to dissolve but wanted to maintain certain services, like sidewalk plowing and maintenance which the town is not equipped to provide, the village could create a special district and only residents and businesses benefiting from the service would pay in a district tax.

Hanover Highway Superintendent Steve D’Angelo was present at the meeting and confirmed, with current staffing and equipment, he will not be able to plow and maintain sidewalks, maintain street lighting or do brush, garbage and metal pickups. D’Angelo added that the cost of these services will outweigh the savings of not having a village board.

White said the village is already facing a tax increase and looking into more affordable options is acting responsibly to the taxpayers.

“The whole purpose in doing this is to make sure the services the village wants is what they are getting the most economically,” he said.

Rogers agreed, saying the residents deserve to know the results of the analysis either way.

“It is at least worth going through the data analysis to see whether there is any tax savings. My opinion is most of the villages and towns in the county should be doing the same type of thing, a full analysis and looking at all the options and see if they are running most efficiently – I’m not saying everything should be dissolved, I am opposed to that – I’m just saying a full analysis of what your costs are, what your options are is something villages in the county should to do,” Rogers said. “As the things change, times change, it is good to check it out so you know what you’re working with and know where you are going. I don’t think this is a bad thing.”

Grant added that there is a state tax incentive offered after dissolution, which is a yearly tax credit of 15 percent of the property value of the town and village, 70 percent of which must be returned to residents and the other 30 percent to be used to defray town expenses.

The next step would be for the committee to send an official request for help from the state with an efficiency study. At the same time, the village must begin an inventory of assets and determine which local laws and services it would like to maintain.

Resident Beth Bowker asked how long this study will take. Member Gloria Yeager said they are in no hurry as long as they get all the facts. White added the village board gave the committee 60 days from July 23 to compile the assets of the village.

The committee decided to wait for STW’s response before deciding to send a formal letter. A tentative date for the next committee meeting was set for Sept. 11 at 1 p.m.