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Dissolution on Ballot for Village of Lyons

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Rochester: Dissolution on Ballot for Village of Lyons
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After eight years serving as mayor for the village of Lyons, the proposal on November's ballot is hard to accept.

"There's tradition, there's no need to give away the village,” said Corrine Kleisle, mayor of Lyons.

But that sentiment isn't shared by everyone. The petition for dissolution was signed by ten percent of the village's voters.

"History and nostalgia isn't enough reason to keep a tax burden among the citizens of the village. We are Lyons, whether we are a village or a town," said Jack Bailey, a resident.

The crowd at Tuesday's meeting had one question: what's the potential impact? A representative from the New York Conference of Mayors says a dissolution wouldn't necessarily provide more efficiency, but more of a cost shift.

"Right now, village residents pay town taxes and don't necessarily get services in return for that. When the village dissolves, the town now has to pay for the maintenance of the roads, village residents get something for their tax dollars," said Wade Beltramo, New York Conference of Mayors.

If the majority votes to dissolve the village, contracts concerning water, sewer, zoning and public safety services would have to be renegotiated.

Before November 6th, voters are going to have to decide which services they are willing to lose. That means the police presence that residents have come to rely on may no longer exist.

The village police department could be turned into a town department or dissolved completely, putting the burden on the Sheriff's Office.

"Sheriff has already taken the position that he would not be able to provide a police presence equivalent to the village police,” said Chief Richard Bogan of the Lyons Police Department.

Dissolved services could also mean a loss of jobs. There's also the issue of village debt and benefits for 46 employees.

But the petition's main purpose, according to supporters, is saving money, which is the one thing that can't be proven. The results of a study conducted by an appointed committee to decide potential savings won't come until after November's vote.

Residents have looked to the dissolution of Seneca Falls' village as a comparison; however, Beltramo says the factors are different, most notably the tax savings village residents gained due to the landfill. Since every village is unique, officials say Lyons voters will have to weigh their options carefully.

"Don't throw away your village. Don't do it because you're mad at us because we didn't fill your pot hole. Have a good reason,” said Kleisle.

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