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Wayne Post
  • Public to offer comment on dissolution

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  • By Tammy Whitacre twhitacre@messengerpostmedia.com
    LYONS — The Village of Lyons Dissolution Plan is complete, and residents will have the opportunity to voice their thoughts at a public hearing Monday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
    The Village Board has approved a dissolution plan presented by the committee, and the next step is a public hearing. If any amendments are made to the plan, the village must hold a second public hearing for public comment. Residents have 45 days from the final public hearing to file a petition containing 25 percent of registered village voters signatures for another referendum; otherwise, the village will dissolve as per the plan on Dec. 31, 2015. In the event a petition is filed, a second vote on the plan itself will be held. If residents vote to approve the plan, the village will dissolve; if voters do not approve the plan, the village remains.
    The plan anticipates an annual savings of $509,929 and an additional $691,941 annual impact on the general fund, affecting the tax levy, due to the shift to district expenses. Under dissolution, village property owners will see a 38 percent decrease in their total tax rate, from $24.76 to $15.28 per $1,000 of assessed value. Residents living outside the village, however, will see a 43 percent increase in their total tax rate from $8.97 to $12.85 per thousand.
    The plan, available for review at the Village Office, 76 William St. between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., has detailed how dissolution of the village would occur, examining village services and costs.
    First to be addressed in the plan is public safety. The police department would become a town-wide department with seven full-time officers and six part-time. The Lyons Fire Department would become a fire district with no recommended changes in staff or operations. All equipment would transfer to the ownership of the district, according to the plan, and the current fire department reserve account would be used to reduce debt before the district transfer occurs. Ambulance and animal control services are expected to remain the same.
    The plan calls for a reduced staff of one part-time code enforcement officer after dissolution. The town’s code enforcement office is expected provide administrative support. Existing village laws will be enforced by the town for two years after dissolution, after which the town may opt to amend or adopt new laws in their place.
    The town court will provide all judicial services with two part-time justices and a full-time court clerk. The court would be housed with the police department to provide security, and a one-time building modification expense will be associated with this recommendation, the plan states.
    There are no anticipated changes in public works, and the town is expected to pay like salaries for the positions. Excess equipment will be identified after dissolution.
    Since water and sewer services are not part of property tax rates, they are not expected to change, although the plan recommends the town review water and sewer rates at a later date to make up for any financial issues resulting from dissolution.
    Page 2 of 2 - Village administrative staff will be reduced under the plan and legislative positions eliminated. The end of employee benefits is the largest anticipated savings in operational costs, as village employees are terminated upon dissolution, the plan states. The town contribution to “new” town employees for medical benefits will be capped at $5,000. All village assets and records will be transferred to the town.
    The plan calls for the creation of several districts, including an Alloway Lighting District, a Village Lighting District, a Village Debt District and a Part Town District. These districts will give the town a way to attribute costs for specific services for lighting, village debt, employee obligations and town retiree benefits.
    With the dissolution process ongoing, a village election is needed to carry them through the process or in the event that voters reject the abolishment of the village. Dissolution Committee member John Cinelli, running on the Democratic line, is vying against Terry VanStean on the Republican ticket for a four-year term as mayor. Current Mayor Corrine Kleisle has opted not to run again. The village also has two open seats on the Village Board and four candidates, including Gene Palmer and Ben Harder running on the Democratic line against Republicans Jim Blandino and Richard Evangelist. A two-year vacancy on the board is being sought by Republican Sean Dobbins, who is running opposed. Election Day is Nov. 5.
    The committee's plan is also available for review on the village website at www.lyonsny.com/thevillage.
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