Local Opinions
A Critique of Kevin Gaughan’s Dissolution Plan - Part Three
By Gary S. Howell
Aug 6, 2010, 19:41

The Plan

The first part of Kevin Gaughan’s plan for Williamsville is – the village remains a village, even after it votes itself out of existence.

Under New York State Law, a village is a municipal corporation. In order to transact the business of that corporation, the village must have an elected board (GOVERNMENT) as defined in the law. *

A village has the legal ability to vote itself into existence and out of existence.

Once a village votes itself out of existence, the territory reverts to the legal control of the town, or towns in which the territory is located.

Under New York State Law, once a village votes itself out of existence, IT NO LONGER EXISTS AS A VILLAGE.

Any group of people, neighborhood, subdivision, shopping plaza, etc., can call itself a village. BUT IT’S NOT A VILLAGE


Part two of his plan is: after dissolution, the Village Board stays in place on a voluntary basis to advance village issues with the town.

This raises a number of questions.

Has anyone asked the Village Board members if they are willing to do this voluntarily?

Has anyone asked the Town Board if they are willing to give the former Village Board members of a non-existent village a voice in advancing the issues of the non-existent village?

What legal authority, or power does the non-existent village’s former board have under Town and New York State Law?

Who’s going to take the concerns of a former village board, from a non-existent village, with no legal authority seriously?

Gaughan went on to suggest that, every two years, village residents get together and elect new board members to advance the non-existent village’s issues.

Who is going to pay to hold an election for a board with no legal power, from a non-existent village?


During his discussion on this voluntary Village Board Gaughan suggested the board should stay in place because, in New England, after agenda items are discussed at town board meetings, everybody, the board and the residents in attendance, votes on the item.

This is true in some small New England towns.

However, can this be done under New York State law?

New York State Town Law defines the general powers of a Town Board. The various sections that define the board’s powers seem to indicate that board members are responsible for making decisions (voting) on town business, not residents who attend the meetings.**

If it is legal in New York State, does anyone really believe that town board members are going to voluntarily relinquish their voting power?


The next feature of Gaughan’s plan was to keep all village committees in place.

I have to admit, of all the proposals in Gaughan’s plan, it seems to be the only one that might work.

However, it is up to the town board.

Have they been asked what they think?

Are they willing to do so?


Gaughan proposed that all full-time village employees be transferred to the town, work until they retire, and then their positions be eliminated.

In the long run, this could end up costing taxpayers more. Town employees tend to earn bigger salaries and more expensive benefits.

When the Lancaster Village and Town merged their police services, both town and village residents ended up paying higher taxes. Why, because the town police officers earned more money and received a more expensive benefit package.

Again this raises questions:

Is the town willing to hire all full-time village employees?

Does the town need all the full-time village employees?


The next item in Gaughan’s plan is: the town should continue every village service.

This raises the question; is the town willing to do so?


Gaughan’s plan includes the town adopting all zoning codes and laws within the village.

One of the greatest features of village life is: the village has control over development and zoning. Each village has unique development and zoning codes that gives that village its special characteristics.

The biggest problem with suburban town development and zoning codes is that they will allow monied interests to develop just about anything, just about anywhere. If these interests want to build something in an area where the zoning doesn’t fit, no problem. The towns change the zoning code.

Gaughan presented absolutely no evidence that the town was interested in adopting the village’s codes.

Based on the pro, dumb, develop anything, anywhere attitude of the towns, it’s not likely that any town will adopt a village’s codes.


Gaughan went on to suggest that the town adopt all the village’s historical designations.

This seems like the easiest suggestion to adopt.

However, during the question and answer session, a resident said the town is not interested in saving the Williamsville Water Mill.

Maybe it’s not so easy.


Gaughan’s last suggest was that the village board immediately apply for state funds to pay down their debt and dissolution costs.

You can’t argue with that.


The new Citizen’s Empowerment act includes a list of items that must be included in a dissolution plan.

Mr. Gaughan’s proposal hardly covers the complete list.

What did he miss?

Stay tuned.


*Village Law of New York State

**>>New York State Town Law

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