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August 3, 2011
Village of Corinth Residents
RE:Village Dissolution - Shared Services
Dear Village of Corinth Resident:
We are writing to you today to address the topic of Village dissolution, sometimes also referred to as consolidation with the Town. Over the course of the last two years this topic has been discussed, carefully analyzed and deliberated upon by the Board of Trustees. The question of whether the Village of Corinth should dissolve and no longer exist as a governmental entity is monumental and can only be answered by weighing the potential benefits, if any, of dissolution against any associated risks. There is perhaps no more important issue that a municipal board can examine.
Recognizing the importance of this question, and the obvious need to make sure the Board’s collective decision is based in fact and reasoned analysis, the Village successfully applied to New York State for a grant to conduct a dissolution/shared services feasibility study. Funding from the grant was used to retain and pay for an expert consultant to assist the Board with developing a dissolution/shared services feasibility study (the “Study”). After a request for proposal process, the Board retained the Center For Governmental Research (“CGR”) as its consultant. A volunteer twelve (12) member shared service/dissolution feasibility study committee (“Committee”) was appointed. This Committee was comprised of 12 members of our community along with leaders from both the Town and the Village and was chaired by Tim Murphy. The Committee was charged with the arduous but critical task of developing the Study. With assistance and guidance from CGR, the Committee conducted interviews of both Village and Town officials including Department Heads, examined budgets and countless records and conducted numerous committee meetings and three separate public meetings to receive input from residents on the question of dissolution. The Study was completed and presented to the Board for review. A majority of membership of the Committee (11 voted against dissolution, 1 voted in favor of dissolution) opined that Village dissolution is not a viable option. The Committee’s conclusions are found in the Study and are summarized as follows:
1. There is no guarantee that dissolution will lower costs for Village residents. There is a possibility, given the uncertainly in future revenue streams, that costs could increase in the event of dissolution. New York State financial incentives to dissolve are not guaranteed into the future.
2. There are too many unknown variables which could negatively impact tax rates. These include the possible elimination or reduction of revenue from the Curtis-Palmer Hydro facility, restrictive funding for repairs for the existing infrastructure (i.e., streets, upper reservoir dam), increases in highway department costs, (i.e., salaries and insurance), and an increase in fire protection costs.
3. Most of the current services provided by the Village would still be provided after consolidation through the creation of special districts. However, the same users would still have to pay all of the associated special district costs, some of which would increase. There would not be any new users added to any of the districts to contribute to the cost of operation.
4. The quality of the service provided may not remain at the same level. After consolidation, there would be an increase in duties at all town governmental levels with no corresponding increase, but more likely a reduction, in staff and representation.
5. Subsidies would most likely be ended. Certain costs currently charged to all or most Village tax payers would only be charged to the special district users. In summary, the committee found that potential costs and risks of dissolving or consolidation of the Village outweigh any potential perceived benefits.
Over the course of the last ten months, the Village Board has carefully reviewed the Study, including the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee contained therein. We conducted a public meeting to discuss the Study and receive public input. The Board also had consultations with CGR.
Based upon our review, it is the collective and unanimous decision of the Board that dissolution is not a viable option for the Village. As found by the Committee, there is no indication that elimination of the Village as a government body will guarantee any substantial cost savings to Village tax payers. The savings identified in the Study would be dependent on continued and increasing state aid payments to the Village. Moreover, there is a possibility that if dissolution were to occur, revenue streams the Village currently enjoys may be reduced or eliminated. In sum, we believe that the Village government remains the best and most efficient form of government to deliver necessary services and to ensure continued revenue streams to fund those services. Therefore, based upon the thorough and careful analysis presented in the Study, the Board has determined that no further review or action upon the question of dissolution is warranted. The Board will continue to explore opportunities with the Town, School District, Saratoga County and surrounding communities to share municipal services. In most instances, shared service agreements, where appropriate, can result in cost savings without disrupting the level or quality of services.
Attached are summary letters from our community members. It is our hope that in reading these summaries you will realize the time, thought and consideration that each of these members dedicated to this study. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Tim Murphy, Chair of the Committee as well as individual Committee members - Renee Baker, Councilman Edward Byrnes, Jeff Collura, Bill Fuller, Kevin Granger, Tim Hanchett, Jim Hopkins, Supervisor Richard Lucia and Scott Sprague, for their commitment to this process and to all those who participated in this very important process.
Very truly yours,
Board of Trustees
Village of Corinth