FORESTVILLE – A representative from the New York State Department of State met with the committee that is reviewing dissolution issues in the Village of Forestville on Wednesday in the community room of the fire hall.
Committee members asked Chris Grant, who works for the efficiencies division of the department, about which services could be provided as they look at the process of keeping or dissolving their village. Grant said state services are provided at no charge, but that he would need to have information supplied by the village.
He said that there would be an incentive of additional state aid provided to the Town of Hanover if the village were to close down its government and be absorbed by the town. He said the funding is 15 percent of the assessed value of properties in the village and it is given to help with the additional costs involved.
Homer “Chum” Bowker Jr., a committee member, said he could not see any benefit to dissolving the village because of the loss of many services. Bowker said the Town of Hanover does not plow sidewalks and does not pick up leaves or brush.
Hanover Highway Superintendent Steve D’Angelo confirmed that his department does not do those services for other areas of the town. “We are not equipped for it,” he said. D’Angelo said he thought an outside contract for these services may cost residents more than they pay now in taxes.
Grant said that assumptions on costs should not be done until the study is complete. “You can’t make a decision without all the facts,” said Grant.
Grant told the committee members that the village can form a special district and contract for special services that they may want to include.
The committee is charged with forming a list of all the assets the village owns. Bowker said he was concerned about the loss of many acres of timber land. He said the village receives revenue when loggers are allowed to cut trees.
Besides buildings, the village would list the fire company equipment as assets. A list of liabilities also would need to be provided to the state.
The village recently borrowed $5 million for a water improvement project and owes money on two fire trucks, according to Village Clerk-Treasurer James White. The liabilities would be charged back to the residents as a special district tax if the village was dissolved into the town.
Several residents attended the meeting and interrupted with comments. Former Mayor Beth Bowker said she did not see any reason to proceed when “more than half the residents are not in favor.”
Grant told her that gathering the facts would make it easier for people to make a decision. Chautauqua County Legislator Rod Rogers, D-Forestville, said he thought the fact-finding process would be good for the village and would help all the residents understand the costs.
Grant also said that the Department of State will suggest other efficiencies if it see areas where the village could benefit from shared services.