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Uncertain future

Sherman receives results of dissolution study

August 18, 2016
By David Prenatt - , Westfield Republican

SHERMAN - The future is still uncertain, but residents of the village of Sherman are now better informed about the consequences of dissolution of the municipality.

Both village and town residents attended a public hearing in the fire hall on Tuesday, August 9, to hear about the results of dissolution study conducted by the Rochester-based firm, CGR.

CGR Senior Associate Paul Bishop presented the results of the consolidation study to about 100 people gathered. Residents had voted to have the study conducted at the end of a hearing held on November 12, 2015.

Article Photos

Photo by David Prenatt
Paul Bishop of the Center Fpr Governmental Research talks to the people of Sherman about the impact that dissolution would have on the area.

CGR spent several months compiling data on the village and town, and interviewing officials and representatives from both. The information was analyzed and used to project the overall impact that dissolution of the village would have on the area, as well as the impact on finances and public services

"Think of this as an introduction to dissolution," Bishop said. "My goal is to be as open and transparent as possible, and for you to understand what might happen if the village dissolves."

Bishop began by telling the audience that he would explain the impact of dissolution by presenting the project overview, the fiscal impact and the service impact on both the town and village, and the next steps in the process.

Bishop said the study was started in February, and the committee reviewed key documents and data from both the town and the village. Bishop then developed a set of assumptions which he shared with the committee.

"The village of Sherman is 0.9 square miles and has 730 people in it and the Town of Sherman is 36 square miles and has 1650 people, including village residents," Bishop said.

Bishop noted that school and county taxes, which currently count for 64% of a resident's taxes, are not impacted when a village is dissolved. Since the village tax would disappear, only the town and fire protection taxes would be impacted, so village residents would see a savings of approximately $7.20 per assessed thousand if dissolution takes place he said.

Bishop said in town residents see 56 percent of the their tax dollars go to the school, and 27 percent go to the county. Therefore, only 17 percent of their tax monies would be affected if the village dissolved. Residents of the town would see the fire protection tax go up, as well as the town tax, Bishop said.

The total municipal tax will go up about 18 percent, which translates an increase of about $1.19 per $1,000, he said. "Percent wise, the town tax will go up a lot. Dollar-wise, it's not really a big increase, Bishop said.

Several citizens noted that farms in the town are assessed at between $200,000 and $2 million, and that dissolution would have a substantial impact on farms throughout the town. Bishop agreed, stating that a farmer might see his property taxes go up about a dollar a day.

Bishop then addressed the matter of debt. He said the village currently has about $153,000 in two different bonds: $98,000 for a front loader and $54,000 for the sewer fund. A member of the audience asked if money in the village fund balance could be used to satisfy these debts, and Bishop said it is a possibility.

Bishop explained the service impact of dissolution. All services currently provided by the village could be provided by the town, he said. Bishop noted that several positions, such as mayor, town clerk, and village trustees, would be eliminated.

Bishop said the town would have several options regarding refuse collection. "The town could either increase the bag fee that village residents currently pay, create a special refuse district, or stop the service," he said.

Regarding water and sewer, he said the employees, infrastructure and equipment would be transferred to the town. The town could create a new water district and a sewer district, which is a common solution with dissolution, he said.

Bishop added that the crossing guard position would be transferred to the town, and the 2 full time highway department employees who work for the village could be transferred to the town, or the town could hire two new highway workers, he said.

Bishop briefly discussed the Yorker Museum, the youth program, code enforcement and the Stanley Hose Company. He said the hose company is separately incorporated. Therefore, the town would need to establish a new fire district or expand the existing fire protection area.

Following his explanation of the impact of dissolution, Bishop described the actions that can follow the study. He said the village board can develop a plan and schedule a referendum. However, the minimum amount of time required for this is 96 days, so the referendum could not be on the November ballot.

He said another option is for 10 percent of village residents to petition for dissolution. Residents would then cast their votes, and if they decide on dissolution, a plan would subsequently be developed. Village Department of Public Works Superintendent Doug Crane emphasized "If it's petitioned, the next step is the referendum."

Town Supervisor Mark Persons addressed the audience, saying that he would need to consider the town budget if dissolution occurs. "I've remained completely unbiased as to whether this should happen or should not happen," he said. In a perfect world, I would want dissolution to take place at a time when I could prepare a budget, ideally December 31.

Persons also said that when dissolution takes place, it is almost inevitable that some services have to be cut.

Bishop concluded by saying that "Each community that has dissolved had certain reasons why it made sense. Every village is different." He said.

Village Mayor John Patterson thanked Paul Bishop for all the work he and the committee have done. "This (dissolution) is certainly something that requires some very serious thought," Patterson added.



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