Taking inventory in Forestville

FORESTVILLE – The Forestville Dissolution Study Committee met Wednesday to review the village’s assets and debts.

Legislator Rod Rogers explained the name of the committee is misleading because at this point the committee has only been tasked with determining the village’s assets and debts.

He said it would be up to the village board if it would like the committee to go to the next step and look at services.

He also pointed out that this study does not have to go as far as dissolving the village, and could be just shared services, but he believes in getting all the facts and getting them out to the public so that decisions can be made based on facts.

Clerk Jim White presented the committee members with a copy of the village’s land and building assets. He said the machinery assets list was not complete and the fire department had not given a list of its assets at the time of the meeting.

The committee had questions about a piece of property that was traded for the springs property, the assessment on the three parcels making up the fire hall and municipal barns, and the assessment on the municipal barn building.

White suggested one thing for the village to consider would be to sell the timber on the springs property and possibly the property itself. He explained the village has gotten $120,000 in timber sales from the property in the past 12 years and the taxes on the land in Arkwright have been $5,000 per year. He said the village must pay insurance on the property and once the springs are decommissioned it may become a liability since it is outside the village and will not be regularly checked.

Committee Member Chum Bowker was vehemently opposed to the idea of selling the property, arguing that the timber will pay for the property and more.

“It is a great asset. We are not going to get rid of it or sell it,” he said.

Bowker added that he believes once the springs are decommissioned, the assessment on the property should drop and therefore the taxes on it will be less.

White said it is a question of which is greater; the value of the timber or the liability to keep the property once it is vacant.

He also said the property is owned by the water fund, which is facing significant debt in the water project and that selling the timber or the land could offset the shortfalls. However, this is something for the village board and the people to decide. White added that he would check to see if the assessment would change once the springs are decommissioned in March.

Next, the committee discussed the debts of the village, which if dissolved, the residents would be responsible to pay back, regardless of dissolution.

White said in addition to the $3.7 million loan for the water project, the village also owes $250,000 for demolition of a building on Main Street, $150,000 for the waterline on Bennett State Road and a few USDA loans on vehicles.

White said the 2009 demolition is listed as an anticipated revenue, but is stuck in court in a lawsuit. He said if the village loses the lawsuit it could face bearing the cost of the $250,000 and may have to pay it off in five years instead of 30 because of the type of loan it is.

Also, White said a water district must be formed on Bennett State Road in order for the village to be able to charge the residents for the $150,000 in work that was done for those out-of-village customers. He said financial consultants at Municipal Solutions said the district must be formed by November for it to be billed with this water project.

Committee Member and Hanover Town Councilman Kevin O’Connell said it is the position of the town that it would like to have all the information on the costs of the projects before it forms any water districts residents may not want if the price is too high.

The committee decided to meet again on Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. in the village hall to review answers to questions and the other asset reports not available.