The Lewiston Town Board voted this week to move ahead in studying a possible merger of the town and the Village of Lewiston.
"I want to put the research together to talk about a public merger between the town and the village," Councilman Michael A. Johnson said. "Village residents may not want to pay more taxes, and there are some interesting comparisons between what a homeowner pays in the town versus the village."
"There are many people who don't know where the line between the village and town ends, and there are lots of overlaps, but the bottom line will be up to residents," said Village Trustee William Geiben, who noted the success of the consolidation of the village and town police departments three years ago.
Deputy Mayor Terry Collesano Tuesday said he does not share the positive view of consolidation.
"We can't just go willy-nilly on this. The village is solvent, and this is a drastic measure. There are things we could consolidate, and I'm not saying down the road we couldn't look at it, but not right now," Collesano said.
He accused Johnson of "making political hay" in advance of a potential run for supervisor.
"We are a family -- a close-knit community. We look at things differently. We are not as politicized at the town. The people are happy, and I don't see a groundswell of support out there (for the merger). . . . This will be up to village residents, not the town," said Collesano.
Town Supervisor Sandra J. Maslen, a former village trustee and village resident, gave her support to Johnson's study but also noted that the 2,900 village residents will ultimately have to decide.
Johnson said he is looking into a grant that would help preserve some jobs if the two governments consolidated and would plan an informational meeting so that all sides could be heard on the issue.
"A village is an optional level of government. They can choose to become part of the town through a vote," Councilman D. James Langlois said.
Geiben noted that sharing services with the Town of Porter and looking at where the Lewiston hamlets of Colonial Village and Sanborn fit into the town also should be discussed.
In another matter, the board approved a 7,300-foot sanitary sewer line that would serve 66 homes on Sweethome, Hermitage, Mayflower, Divide, Garlow and Kline roads, as well as Wayside and Colonial drives. Those homes have not had access to sewers and will pay sewer rents to fund the $516,149 project. Homeowners have one year, after the line is available, to hook up to the sewers and must pay the costs to run a lateral line to the town's main trunk.
Councilman George E. Briggs supported allowing seven homeowners on Divide Road to use the Town of Niagara sewer line, but his proposal was defeated.
Briggs said some homes have already been condemned and complained that another year would go by before these homeowners would have access to the new sewer line.
"We've let others tie in (to the Town of Niagara line), and now these people have been shoved aside," Briggs said.