MALONE — The Malone Village Board wants guidance from Sen. Betty Little, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey and the town before it votes on the future of village government.
On Monday, members accepted a final dissolution plan, drawn up by a joint committee of residents and elected officials, that was advised by a Rochester consulting firm.
The report recommends consolidating and shared services for immediate and gradual implementation by the town and village if dissolution does not take place.
It suggests merging municipal offices into one building and keeping all employees, as well as the formation of special districts for street lighting, leaf and brush pickup; village water, including town users; village sewer; police protection; and existing village debt to cover ongoing retiree health-care costs.
But the committee also researched the impact if the village were eliminated.
Dissolving the village yet retaining police protection means the town would need state permission to create a special police district paid for by property owners who benefit from the service.
Such a request has not been granted nor, apparently, been pursued by any municipality since 1936, so the Village Board is planning to meet with Little (R-Queensbury) and Duprey (R-Peru) to gauge the chances of it happening for Malone.
At the same time, members want a promise now from Town Council members to create the police district, if the state eventually relents, and also to retain as many village workers as it can.
The next step in the process is a public hearing set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the Village Offices, but it may be moved elsewhere to accommodate an anticipated large crowd.
Mayor Todd LePine said that accepting the report does not lock the Village Board into a decision yet.
“We’re doing this to get it to a public hearing,” he said. “We’ll do more education so they know what they’re voting on. We can move forward with this resolution, and we have the option to say no after then.”
A group of taxpayers who initiated the dissolution effort wants to see the issue on the Nov. 6 ballot, anticipating a high voter turnout because of the presidential election.
The Village Board would need to adopt the plan by Sept. 6 to get it on the ballot, or it could hold off six months and have a special election after the first of the year, which could be more expensive.
Trustee Dan Marlow is concerned about what he calls a rushed November timeline, calling it “a red flag” because he’s afraid that residents concentrating on the presidential race may not give dissolution enough thought before they vote on something that cannot be reversed.
He suggested giving people more time after the election, then offer the vote “when village voters truly understand the ramifications.”
Tax rates for a $75,000 home inside the village would go from $23.50 to $19 per $1,000 of assessed-property value, it is estimated, for an initial average savings of $337. The town rate for the same house from $8 to $7.40 per $1,000 or save about $45 a year, estimates show.
Those figures depend on the town receiving a $750,000 tax credit from the state, which must be included in the state budget each year.
If the tax credit were not to happen, the average tax rate inside the village would be $21 per $1,000 and $9.40 per $1,000 in the town.
Marlow is also not sure that people understand that the tax reductions quoted in the report are dependent on state approval every year, “and that’s the core of the discussion. That money’s not guaranteed, but there is a guarantee that lives will be turned upside down.”
Trustee Joe Riccio said that while the board has an obligation to educate the public, he doesn’t want to wait until 2013.
“This has been talked about for decades. We can debate whether to put it on the ballot, but there is no good time or no bad time,” he said, adding that the issue is not just dissolution.
“There are two parallel tracks: efficiencies and dissolution,” Riccio said. “If we go through the process and (dissolution) is not the option, we still have a road map to efficiencies.”
Email Denise A. Raymo: firstname.lastname@example.org