Voters in the village of Depew are expected to decide in late December or in January if their village government should be dissolved.
More than enough signatures on a petition have been validated by Village Administrator Maureen T. Jerackas and the Erie County Board of Elections to require the village hold a referendum on whether to dissolve the government.
The Board of Elections and Jerackas both verified as valid 1,518 of the 1,712 signatures on a petition submitted by organizers who support dissolution.
That means the Village Board has 30 days from Sept. 29 to approve a resolution, setting a vote date. A vote must be held within 60 to 90 days from the day the board sets the date of the vote.
Mayor Jesse C. Nikonowicz said the board expects on Oct. 24 to set a vote date and formally accept the validation of the petition submitted by former village clerk Joan M. Priebe and Irvine G. Reinig II, who in June spearheaded a grassroots effort to trigger a referendum vote.
Based on that timeframe, Nikonowicz said it's likely that residents can expect to cast their votes in a dissolution referendum sometime in the third week of January.
"Who wants to vote on dissolving the village at Christmastime?" he said Tuesday.
That 90-day window from late October buys people on both sides of the issue time to build support momentum on the divisive issue.
The village of 15,000 people is already fractured on the topic, with some fearing loss of village jobs and identity, and others saying dissolving the village will save taxpayers considerable money.
Depew has never voted on dissolution. Two-thirds of the village lies in Cheektowaga, with the remaining third in the Town of Lancaster. If a referendum to dissolve the village passes, both of those communities would have to absorb Depew.
The Village Board would then have six months to come up with plans on how to sell off village assets and see whether any of its 176 employees would be hired by the other two towns.
A forum to answer questions about dissolution will be held for the public at 7 p.m. Thursday in the High School, 5201 S. Transit Road. It is hosted by the New York Conference of Mayors.