Sherman Councilman asks village to consider merging with town

SHERMAN – Sherman Villge Board members were asked earlier this month to once again consider the possibility of combining governmental bodies with the town.

Town Councilman James Higginbotham asked the board to review information concerning consolidation of the two governing entities and to ask voters if it is worth pursuing. He said if the village board did not put the question on the ballot, it could be done through a petition signed by 10 percent of village residents.

“Either way it can happen, and I think it is going to happen,” Higginbotham said. “There are a lot of people pushing for consolidation.”

Higginbotham said he had met with Kyle Wilber, a municipal management consultant with the New York State Division of Local Government Services, regarding the benefits of consolidation

Higginbotham said he was told, in the event of consolidation, the state would provide money equal to 15 percent of total tax revenue of both the village and town.

Of that, 80 percent would return to the taxpayers and 20 percent would be earmarked to allow the town to take over programs that were previously supported by the village. There is no limit of the number of years that the state would provide this assistance, he said.

If the municipalities would consolidate, the town board would become the governing body for all of Sherman and for the water and sewer departments, unless a separate administrative entity was established for these services, Higginbotham said.

People in the village would no longer pay a village tax, Higginbotham added. However, their town and state taxes would increase.

Board members made no decision on the issue of placing consolidation on the ballot, but decided to schedule a presentation by Wilber.

In other business, Sherman Mayor John Patterson commended the Sherman Days Committee for the outstanding job that was done in preparing for Sherman Days. He also thanked those who helped make the Shave-the-Mayor Campaign for Roswell Cancer Research a success.

“I am positive that they are going to hit $7,500 for breast cancer research,” Patterson said. “I couldn’t be more happy.” He said they will insist that the money raised be earmarked specifically for research.

Patterson especially thanked village clerk Ann Gilbert for the “immense” amount of work she had put into the fundraiser. “She made it happen,” he said. “Ann was absolutely fabulous. All I did was grow my hair.”

Patterson also told the board about two new state mandates, which were passed with “no one knowing anything about them.” The first states that if a municipality stays under the tax cap, every property owner will receive a 1.5 percent tax rebate.

This translates to $8.72 for Sherman taxpayers, Patterson said. However, the cost of bookkeeping and extra hours for Gilbert would outweigh that, he said.

“When it comes down to a village of 750 people, it’s ridiculous,” he said. “You can’t buy a pizza for $8.75.”

The second mandate requires that every hour of shared service must be documented both for workers and equipment. Patterson said that Sherman and many small municipalities rely heavily on shared services and this mandate will put a strain on them.

“Can you imagine the monumental amount of bookkeeping it will take to document all of this information for the state and send it in,” he said. “It’s another piece of bureaucracy that we just don’t need,” said Patterson.

A public hearing was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 20 to pass a bond resolution for the village’s new loader/plow truck.