Local Opinions
A Critique of Kevin Gaughan’s Dissolution Plan - Part One
By Gary S. Howell
Aug 4, 2010, 14:27

I am not a journalist, reporter, or editorialist. I am a citizen-activist who is expressing his opinion on the Dissolution Plan Kevin Gaughan offered residents of Williamsville.

While Gaughan’s activities anger some villagers, he has every right to promote his ideas. His rights are guaranteed under the Constitution. The New York State Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act reinforces his activities on behalf of village dissolution.

I am a critic of village dissolution. In my opinion it is not the cure-all for government dysfunction it is prescribed to be.

I am especially critical of the new Citizen Empowerment Act. The Act does not increase citizen empowerment over the former version of the law. In my opinion it is an unfair act, created by the Albany elite, to diminish the “little person’s” direct control over the community they live in.

It needs to be made clear that my critique is not a criticism of Kevin Gaughan. It is my critique of the plan he offered.


The first issue with Gaughan’s plan lies in Section 782 of the law, which reads:

1. In the case of a proposed dissolution of a local government entity properly initiated by petition of electors pursuant to section seven hundred seventy-nine of this title, if a majority of the electors voting at a referendum vote in favor of dissolution the entity’s governing body shall meet within thirty days after certification of the favorable vote and, within one hundred eighty days of such meeting, prepare and approve a proposed elector initiated dissolution plan.

Under the law, the entity charged with preparing a dissolution plan is the government of the entity (village) being dissolved.


Village Law, Article 19 requires that a study committee be created to develop the plan. That committee can be made up of village board members, town board members, a consulting firm, and residents from the village and town.


However, the town has more power than any of the other groups. There is a principle in New York State law that prohibits successor boards (in this case, the town board) from being bound by agreements of prior boards (the village).

According to Wade Beltramo, General Counsel for NYCOM, “…the town board isn’t legally bound by any decisions made by the village board. That means that the town board can ignore the dissolution plan required by state law…”

Thomas Mangan, Be Careful What you wish for, Monroe County Elections 2010 Examiner, January 29, 2010.


Kevin Gaughan can present a plan, I can present a plan, or anyone else can present a plan.

The only plan that has legal force is the plan offered by the village being dissolved.

Even after that plan is agreed to, if the town board decides the plan is disadvantageous to itself or its residents, they can ignore the plan.

Mr. Gaughan presented his plan to the public. It's not clear whether he presented his plan to the Williamsville Village Board or the Amherst Town Board. He presented no evidence and gave no indication as to whether either board approved of or disapproved of the plan. Without any indication from either board as to what they think about the plan, the public does not know whether his plan is viable or acceptable.

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