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Wayne Post
  • Lyons sets date for second vote

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  • LYONS — Even as pro-dissolution group OneLyons and the village head back to court, the Village Board has set a date for a new referendum that will decide the matter definitively, Mayor Terry VanStean said.
    “It was promised from day one that if enough people wanted it there would be a second vote,” the mayor said. “OneLyons should welcome a second vote if they feel so confident the village should dissolve. This will decide it once and for all.”
    The vote has been set for Tuesday, March 18, on what is the usual election cycle for a spring vote, and polls will be open as if it were a regular election, VanStean said. The cost for the vote will be funded by taxpayers. The vote is for village residents only.
    If dissolution is approved in the second vote, the village will dissolve on Dec. 31, 2015; if a majority of residents vote no, the village remains as is, and dissolution cannot be initiated again for four years.
    Both parties were scheduled to appear in Wayne County Supreme Court before Judge John Nesbitt on Tuesday, Jan. 14 to argue the validity of the petition that calls for a second vote on dissolution. OneLyons filed an Article 78 against the village stating Village Clerk Denise Darcangelis’ findings were flawed when she certified the petition that contained over 600 names or 25 percent of registered voters in the village.
    According to OneLyons’ website, “The Village of Lyons never responded to OneLyons, and instead informed the community via the media that they would speed up the process and get this to a vote, and the only method OneLyons retained to seek review of the validity of the petition was to take the village to court again. Further, the Village Clerk Denise Darcangelis refused to provide a copy of the formal certification until Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 after the village set a special meeting to speed the process up.”
    But the mayor says all OneLyons is doing is costing the village money. Every time they file an Article 78, he said, taxpayers have to pay for costs associated with going to court not only for the village, but also for OneLyons.
    “They are challenging the law as much as they are challenging us,” VanStean said.
    Darcangelis received a petition on Dec. 18 filed by Connie Rios containing signatures from 25 percent of village registered voters, which once validated requires the Village Board to set a date for another referendum on whether the village should dissolve.
    Darcangelis had 10 days to certify the petition, and the upon certification, the board had 30 days to set a date for a referendum. On Dec. 30, Jack Bailey from One Lyons filed an objection to the petition on several points that “should invalidate the petition and should not permit it to be certified.” According to the objection paperwork, the petition fails to conform to the standard requirements under general municipal law and lists more than 100 objections to the signatures appearing on the petition.
    Page 2 of 2 - VanStean said Darcangelis used the same criteria to certify OneLyons’ petition calling for the first dissolution vote in 2012 that she used to certify the new petition. If one is invalid, then so must be the other, he said.
    There is nothing in the dissolution law that addresses objections to petitions, the mayor said, so the Village Board moved forward with the process “following the letter of the law.”
    “I don’t feel it was a very well thought out law,” said VanStean, who was a village trustee before resigning after five years service when the 2012 dissolution vote happened. “The process is skewed toward dissolution to reduce government, but in the process it actually creates more in various taxing entities.”
    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 could 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 potentially see a 43 percent increase in their total tax rate from $8.97 to $12.85 per thousand. VanStean said in some parts, town taxes could go up as much as 78 percent under the plan due to the many taxing entities. Town residents, although directly affected by dissolution, have no vote in the final decision making.
    But what troubles the mayor more is that town is under no obligation to follow the plan. The plan is nothing more than a best-case scenario for village residents only if the plan is followed to the letter, VanStean said, and the “town gets it stuck to ’em.”
    More grievous than anything else, the mayor said, is what dissolution has done to the village.
    “It has divided our community terribly,” he said. “It’s pitted neighbor against neighbor. It’ll take years to fix that.”
    To learn more about the OneLyons’ fight for dissolution, visit www.onelyons.com for regular updates on what the group is doing. Dissolution information can also be found on the village's website at www.lyonsny.com/thevillage.

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