Residents of the Village of Cherry Creek should find themselves the better after voting 70-32 to dissolve their tiny municipality about an hour’s drive south of Buffalo on Route 62.
As the 20th village in New York to merge with a town since 2008, Cherry Creek may serve as an example to larger villages that are determined, even against their own best interest, to maintain the status quo.
Cherry Creek’s story began in the 1800s, written by hardworking citizens brought up in the comfort and familiarity of a small rural village.
Indeed, the description reported by The News’ Mark Sommer was of a once-thriving village incorporated in 1893, with a population of nearly 700 as recently as 1980. For decades there were jobs, plenty of people to work the land and customers to buy what it produced.
But like so many stories of rural America, economies changed; there were fewer jobs and people began leaving. The village was down to about 440 residents.
And as a result, the folks left behind had to shoulder a growing share of the burden of providing public services.
The accumulated pressure of low household incomes in comparison with town residents and the lack of resources to adequately maintain infrastructure made Cherry Creek the perfect candidate for dissolution.
Even though dissolving the village seemed to be the fiscally prudent thing to do, it is still a controversial subject. Some residents did not want to have their names attached to their opinions. That’s understandable, given the heated and divisive debate leading up to Depew’s decision not to dissolve.
What happened in Cherry Creek – the strain of too few people and too many bills – is being felt across the state. In an effort to encourage the dissolution of villages, New York State offers a tax credit that provides $96,000 annually, with 75 percent used for tax reduction.
It’s not clear how much the village will save by dissolving, but maintaining its existence with a few hundred residents wasn’t sustainable.