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Proposal to shrink Village Board will appear on ballot

Village of Lancaster residents will have a chance next week to vote on an unusual proposition designed to shrink local government.

At the top of the Nov. 4 election ballot -- located just above the names of candidates running in the general election -- will be a referendum question labeled simply "Proposition."

It asks Village of Lancaster voters to decide whether to reduce the number of trustees currently serving on the Village Board.

"With all the excitement surrounding the presidential election, I'm hoping residents of the village will remember to take advantage of this opportunity to downsize the board by two members, which I wholeheartedly support," said Mayor William G. Cansdale Jr.

The move would save village taxpayers $18,000 per year. That's the cost of two trustees' annual salaries.

If the majority of voters say "yes" to the referendum, the size of the Village Board will gradually be cut from six to four trustees by the time the March 2011 general election is complete.

Not many politicians in Erie County have willingly agreed to downsize their numbers on local governing bodies, but Lancaster's Village Board has been on that track since March.

That's when village voters took the first step toward downsizing the board by abolishing the former ward system of electing trustees.

As a result, village trustees are now elected at-large -- no longer are they tied to a geographic ward.

Residents with questions about the upcoming reduction referendum may call the village clerk's office at 683-2105.

In West Seneca, voters also will get a chance to reduce the number of elected representatives on their Town Board, but not Nov. 4.

A special referendum will be held in the town Nov. 17 in which voters will be asked to trim their Town Board from five members to three.

Unlike Lancaster, the West Seneca referendum has been hard-won -- coming only after substantial efforts by regionalism advocate Kevin Gaughan and residents who have signed petitions demanding a public vote on the question of downsizing.

e-mail: iliguori@buffnews.com

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