Depew officials looking to capitalize on the passionate opposition of residents who voted against dissolving the village recommended a tax relief task force be formed Monday night during a meeting of the Depew Village Board.
The task force – with an eye toward changing the Village of Depew into a town – was sponsored by Trustee Kevin Peterson, who had the backing of the village board and Depew Mayor Jesse Nikonowicz.
“Obviously there were 4,200 people who came out to vote last week,” said Peterson. “That is probably as much as who voted in the last three mayoral races. We need to use this momentum to help ease the tax burden on Depew residents. It’s not going to be an easy road, but it’s something that as a board we need to do.”
The vote on dissolution of the village, held last week, saw 3,006 people supporting keeping the village while 1,165 voted to dissolve Depew.
The public debate before the vote was an arduous discussion that centered in part on services received by Depew residents.
The services would have merged with Cheektowaga or Lancaster. Residents believed services would have suffered if the dissolution was approved. Many residents who voted for the dissolution believed they were being double-taxed for those services.
The Village of Depew Tax Relief Task Force would consist of 14 residents – seven residents that live on the Town of Lancaster side of Transit Road and seven from the Cheektowaga side of Transit.
A trustee would join each group. Both groups would be overseen by Nikonowicz, the mayor.
“Maybe we just need another set of eyes to look at the budget,” said Peterson. “We’ll go as an organized group to each town and deal with the taxes. It's a long road to becoming a town.”
Applications for residents who would like to serve on the task force will be available on the village website, said Nikonowicz.
The applications will be reviewed and the applicants could be interviewed.
It is expected that these groups will meet at least once a month, but there may be circumstances that require additional meetings, according to Nikonowicz.
The objective is to offer residents an opportunity for input during the annual budget process, to offer opinions on the services Depew provides and to work with the board to approach the towns of Cheektowaga and Lancaster to seek adjustments to the taxes paid by Depew residents.
This part of the process could very well lead to separating from the towns and lead the Village of Depew to become a town, Peterson said.