From the Lancaster Bee-
Village of Lancaster residents form group, unite against dissolution.
On March 13, Village of Lancaster residents gathered to address concerns arising from the threat of dissolution. The threat arises from publicized efforts of others to undertake a petition drive in a manner now authorized by the recently enacted New N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act.
During the meeting, the group adopted the name Voters Opposed to Elimination, formulated its mission and elected officers.
Chosen to serve as chairman of V.O.T.E. was Gary S. Howell, and vice-chairs Garth Kraemer, Anthony Guarino III and Dawn Gaczewski were named.
It was resolved that the mission of V.O.T.E. is to resist the attack on the Village of Lancaster, and V.O.T.E. will seek to educate Village of Lancaster neighbors on the unfair and unfavorable consequences of the threatened petition drive, Howell said.
V.O.T.E. also will seek to educate village neighbors, through various media, that any referendum at this time would be uninformed and likely have unintended and adverse consequences.
The following eight points will be disseminated to Village of Lancaster residents through the group:
1.) Under the procedure mandated by the new legislation, villagers would not be informed of the manner and effect of dissolution. The assets of the village would be dissipated by sale or surrender to the town. The referendum would be conducted before a dissolution plan was formulated and studied. A referendum would be conducted prior to any commitment from the town as to the manner in which village assets, such as fire and Department of Public Works equipment and personnel, would be utilized and allocated.
2.) In the event a referendum should pass, the newly enacted law does not allow enough time for a dissolution study to be prepared before dissolution must be effected.
3.) Speculation as to savings would likely prove unfounded. In fact, the tax burden to village residents would likely be increased as special districts are created, as the cost of town government increases to accommodate the loss of village services, as village residents find that they are statutorily committed to satisfy village debt and as the services of village employees are replaced by services of town employees with higher salaries.
4.) The recently enacted statute does not provide the appropriate manner to consider dissolution. The appropriate order for considering dissolution of a village is reversed. First, a plan involving and committing both the village and the town should be finalized. Then village residents should be provided the opportunity to determine whether dissolution is preferable in accordance with the defined plan.
5.) The newly enacted petition process itself is flawed. It allows outsiders to influence the fate of our village. Historically, besides notaries, only village residents could carry petitions to dissolve their village.
“Because of an unwise and legally questionable feature of the new law, non-residents can be solicited to carry petitions,” Howell said.
6.) Petitions to dissolve a village threaten loss of representation. Dissolution means residents will give up direct control over planning, zoning, development and the character of the village. Village government creates and strengthens the image and value of our neighborhoods.
“Dissolving village government will dilute our control over the community in which we live,” V.O.T.E. stated.
7.) Dissolution will also eliminate services provided by the village, such as the village-sponsored sidewalk replacement program, school sidewalk snow removal and programs that are presently undertaken to renovate the Central Avenue Business District.
8.) Dissolving village government contradicts basic principles of American government by weakening representative Democracy.
“Our mission includes the goal to defend and protect this principle,” Howell said.
After the meeting, V.O.T.E. Howell said, “We are confident that when the facts are presented, the majority of village residents will agree that the Village of Lancaster is a treasure worth preserving”.
Anyone interested in joining may contact Howell at 440-4688 or email@example.com