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Village’s fate to be determined by referendum

October 12, 2016
By David Prenatt - , Westfield Republican

SHERMAN - The future of the village of Sherman will now be decided at a public referendum in December. However, Mayor John Patterson made it clear that he is adamantly opposed to dissolution.

Sherman Village Board of Trustees officially accepted a petition at its Oct. 5 meeting that will mandate a public vote on dissolution. The petition, signed by more than 100 Sherman Village residents, now requires the village to hold a referendum vote between 60 and 90 days from its official acceptance.

Board members set Dec 6, 13 and 21 as possible dates for the referendum. The actual date chosen for the vote will depend upon the availability of the County Board of Elections to conduct it.

At the end of the meeting, Patterson said he wanted to make it clear where he stood on the issue of dissolution. He said he believes that any initial benefit to village residents in the form of lower taxes will diminish through the years, while public services will decrease.

"If the people vote it in (dissolution) then let the people have their way. I'll be okay with it. But the people have to know why I'm taking the stand I'm taking," Patterson said. "I'm not going to stand by as if I have no opinion."

Patterson noted how a study conducted on dissolution concluded that village taxes would be reduced by 43 percent. However, he said this is not the whole story. "I believe taxes will creep up each year," he said. "We will see a decrease in services and an increase in taxes."

When a municipality dissolves, the state grants it a tax relief for an indefinite period of time. Patterson said he believe the monies received would go to help lower town taxes and be of no benefit for the village. "As for the $75,000 we would get from the state, I don't think the village will see a nickel of that," he said.

Patterson said he did not think the town would be able to assume the work of the village without loss of service. "They (village residents) are going to be very disappointed at what's going to happen two or three or five or six years down the road," he said. "It's not reasonable to think the town clerk can take on the work of the village clerk with only an additional 10 hours a week."

Patterson noted that the village is nearly 200 years old and has continued its existence through four fires and a flood. "They didn't run away. They rebuilt the village," he said. "Once dissolution is voted in, it's irreversible."

Patterson said that village employees have worked hard through the years to take care of needs as they arose, often using old equipment. The village has recently acquired new equipment which will allow more efficient work, he said. "We've got good employees and this is working, Patterson said. "There is absolutely no way I will support anything to do with dissolution."

Sherman resident Kevin Cole, who attended the meeting, remarked that people needed to be educated about the effects of dissolution before the vote occurs. "What's going to happen to the village laws? The village laws will go away.There is no zoning in the town. What will happen if the village dissolves? Will you be able to put a trailer in the village or a farm?" he said. "If it's going to go to a vote, then educate the people."

In other business, Joseph Niezgoda of WNY Insurance Agency, LLC, presented the board with the village's new insurance policy. He told board members their cost went up slightly but the annual premium is still less than the village was paying with Trident Insurance.

Niezgoda reviewed the municipality's coverage and noted that coverage on buildings and contents went up 4% to offset inflation. He told the board that the total premium of $11,428 reflected an increase of about $330. Sherman Village Mayor John Patterson thanked Niezgoda and said he was pleased that the cost of the insurance had not gone up considerably.

Patterson introduced the village's new attorney from Thomas Law Office of Jamestown. He told the board that "Todd Thomas has agreed to represent us as our attorney."

Thomas told board members that he was with legal aid for 12 years, and is now "hanging out my shingle" and going back into private practice.

Patterson confirmed that the village would be employing Thomas on a per diem basis at the rate of $150 an hour. "We are pleased to have you on board to represent us," Patterson told Thomas.

In other matters, Patterson informed board members that there will be a presentation by the county sheriff's department on the establishment of a Neighborhood Watch Program to stop the vandalism that's been going on.

The presentation will be on Thursday, October 13 at 7 pm at the fire hall. "We're giving the county sheriff's department full access to all of the village properties to take care of the kids who are out well past midnight," Patterson said.

Sherman has experienced a good deal of vandalism in recent months, particularly to the benches and tables in the pavilion in the village park.

The board also heard from resident Charles Raven about the agreement between his family and the village, regarding a right of way through Raven's land to the village reservoir. The agreement provides water to the Raven's in exchange for the right-of-way.

Raven said that his brother, Howard, brought home an agreement which the brothers were expected to sign. However, the agreement was the original one that had several problems, he said.

Patterson asked Raven what changes he wanted to the agreement so that the matter could be laid to rest. Raven responded that the word "free," which was used in regard to the water service should not be used. Instead the contract should use the words "in exchange for" or "in compensation of."

Raven also said that it was his understanding that the agreement would not pertain solely to his family, but to anyone who might buy the property in future years.

Patterson asked Attorney Thomas if he could write a new contract and have it ready for the next board meeting and Thomas consented to prepare an agreement.

Jeanette Ramm brought several delinquent water and sewer accounts to the attention of the board. "If an account is closed but there is an outstanding bill, do we close it out?" she asked. The board voted to close accounts that have been closed and can no longer be collected.

Village clerk Jeannette Ramm asked the board if the village wants to continue paying Access Channel 5 an annual fee of $250. Patterson said the village makes use of Access Channel 5, which provides public, educational & governmental Access TV to the area. The board voted to continue paying the annual fee.

Village trustees set the date and time for trick or treating as Monday, October 31 from 5 to 7 pm.



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