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Village of Corinth Residents
On Tuesday January 17th, I urge you to exercise your right to vote on whether the Village of Corinth will continue as your local municipal government or be dissolved. As you know, the Village was formed by our forefathers in 1886 to provide certain services in the newly formed and incorporated Village of Corinth. Now 126 years later, its residents will soon decide by referendum if it is still in their best interests to continue this relationship. This is as it should be.
By now, you have probably had a chance to hear many differing opinions on what is the best course to choose. Over the next week, there will be a blitz of notices, letters, and editorials from the Village Board, Post Star and other citizen’s groups that will attempt to summarize the pros and cons of dissolution. I urge you not to rely solely on what you hear on the streets or read in the paper. It is important for you to take the time to study this issue personally. In our mailers and Pennysaver News ads that are going out now, we can only briefly summarize what is in the report of the twelve member Dissolution study committee. The complete report is available at Village Hall or online on our website for you to view in its entirety at www.villageofcorinthny.com, You can also read the letters of opinion written by the members of the study committee on how and why they made their final recommendation that we should not dissolve.
Many residents have asked me my opinion. It is simple. As the report states, with dissolution of the Village, there could be a tax savings to Village residents. The report cites a $193,000 per year total budget savings. As the report also states, there are unknowns that could negate these savings which in my mind creates an unacceptable risk that taxes could in fact go up if we dissolve. The big risk is the income stream (about $800,000 per year) we receive from the Curtis Palmer Hydro facilities that are located entirely within our Village and currently applied directly to our budget to reduce taxes. When IP owned them, we had constant assessment challenges and threats of litigation. When IP sold the hydros in 2001, the new owners immediately filed notice of suit to get their taxes cut by more than half. This would have been disastrous as it would have adversely affected the delicate balance of taxes between the industrial and residential sectors. I sat in on negotiations first as Village Trustee and then as Mayor whereby the Town, School and Village each had direct representation and an agreement was hammered out with the new owners that ended the lawsuit with a 7 year agreement with structured payments to all three entities with only a slight reduction in their net payments. If the Village were to dissolve, there is nothing in the agreement that addresses whether or not they would have to continue our portion of their payments. Further, if the Village dissolves, we would have no direct representation during future rounds of negotiations. This current agreement runs out in 2013/2014 tax year and new negotiations will resume sometime soon. A risk is that after dissolution, the industrial taxpayer may see the most benefit from the creation of new taxing districts by which they can argue they are entitled to a reduction due to the fact that they do not benefit from many of the services provided. If they are successful, you will make up the difference. Further, even if the total funding steams were unchanged and our share is simply added to the towns share, the town board would determine how these funds would be appropriated annually. Again, any reduction in this revenue would be made up by you. You must decide if it is prudent to take this gamble.
What the committee also could not factor in is the future redevelopment and increases in tax base from the IP property. The highest assessed portion of the IP property lies within the Village, not the Town. We are excited that the Hudson River Community Credit Union has already bought a portion of this property and is investing millions to develop their operations center. As you have heard, there is other strong interest in this site and IP wants to sell all their property. As it is redeveloped, the Village, Town and Schools will reap the benefits proportionate to their increasing assessments. We have been through ten years of declining revenues from this site, we have no place to go but up. For this reason alone, now may not be the time to consider dissolution.
Please be assured however that if the majority vote is to dissolve, the Village Board and employees will respect your decision and pledge to work with the Supervisor and Town Board to put in place the best plan possible in the orderly transition from an Incorporated Village to a district within the Town. If the vote is not to dissolve, we will do our utmost to continue the tradition of services and representation that you have come to expect and deserve. Polls are open Tuesday January 17th from 12-9pm at Village Hall, 244 Main St, Corinth. For those who will be away, absentee ballot applications can be picked up at Village Hall or available through the Saratoga County Board of Elections website, but you must act quickly. It has been my pleasure to serve you as Mayor for the past eight years and I wish you a happy and prosperous 2012!