The Village, Town, City Problem
A few days ago, the Village of Depew, which is near Buffalo, voted to keep themselves a town instead of merging with towns of Cheektowaga and Lancaster. The vote was overwhelming for this period in time when it’s hard to get almost anyone to the polls. Around 42% of eligible voters cast their vote, and it won by 258% (72% of the vote); that’s pretty emphatic!
This type of thing keeps happening all over the state of New York, including here in the Syracuse area. There’s this constant battle between villages, towns and the city of Syracuse, with those supporting mergers looking at cutting expenses and (yeah, right) taxes, while those opposed to it not only don’t trust those other entities (even though they’re actually still a part of them) but want to remain a big fish in a little pond.
I understand it and I don’t.
I wrote a post about people ignoring stop signs and not even slowing down and complained that the town of Clay doesn’t care because we’re not revenue generating; I didn’t say that specific thing but that’s the reality of it all. Yet, if I were in the village of Liverpool I could probably at least get someone to talk to, present my issue, and someone would actually come out to take a look to see what I was talking about… and then possibly do something about it. Villages seem to take the taxes it collects from you more seriously than the other entitles and shows a bit more care to its residents.
I say “bit more” because of the part I don’t understand as well. Often the tax base is pretty low for a lot of villages, and Depew was no exception. The residents were told that they could save upwards of $1,050 a year in taxes while adding that the village is $8.2 million in debt. To make up that sum the village would have to tax every resident an extra $516.12 a year… that’s including children, retired people, etc. Even though the village residents are economically more sound than the residents in many communities across the state, even they don’t make enough to cover this.
You know the last village to be dissolved in Onondaga County? Eastwood… in 1926! The last vote for dissolution of a town in this area that I can recall was for Camillus in 2011, which was overturned by 59.17%. That doesn’t stop the talk around the area… especially from the top.
That’s because the Onondaga County legislature not only wants to dissolve villages, but wants to dissolve a lot of the towns as well. We don’t trust them much because a lot of the talk has been to move more of the money that could be potentially saved into the city; where would that leave the rest of us living in the suburbs?
There’s no guarantee that anyone’s taxes would be decreased either. An outgoing mayor of Clay years ago proclaimed that as the result of some action he’d taken that the town residents would be getting tax cuts of at least 10%. That didn’t come close to happening because those who followed him “found” shortfalls… and of course that’s passed on to the taxpayers.
Let’s see… big fish in small pond; can’t trust politicians; not enough money to go around… is this even potentially fixable? I’m hedging my bet on the side of doubt. Then again, the village of Macedon in Wayne County did vote to dissolve last year, and it takes place in March. That should be an interesting model to follow closely, even though they don’t have a large city like Syracuse to worry about.
What are your thoughts on this one?