Time to bid Village of Liberty farewell?
By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY Could dissolving the Village of Liberty be better for its residents?
Four plans drawn up by a consultant studying the concept of merging the village with the Town of Liberty all say “yes.”
But at a cost to residents of the town.
Funded by a grant from the NYS Department of State under its Shared Municipal Services Incentive Grant Program, consultants from the Hudson Group, Barton and Loguidice and the Pattern for Progress presented two options to a joint town/village committee.
The first would keep the village government in place, but merge certain duplicated entities, such as public works and the justice courts. The result would save a village taxpayer with property assessed at $150,000 a total of $177 a year, while town residents currently living outside the village with similarly assessed property would see a tax hike of $75.
The second option, a total dissolution of the village, could save a village taxpayer with a $150,000 assessment anywhere from $364 to $1,300, bumping a town resident’s bill anywhere from $114 per year to $422.
The differences come via the means the consultants propose distributing the current village functions.
The least cost increase to town residents (and the smallest decrease for villagers) would involve making the current Liberty Police Department into a town police squad only serving its current service area. The price for police services would be paid only by residents of that service area similar to the separate taxing districts already in place to fund fire departments in separate parts of the town.
According to Town Supervisor John Schmidt, that’s the plan he’s heard the most support for on the street.
“The majority of the residents I’ve talked to said we have to retain the police department,” he noted. “All of the other departments you’d kind of have to work on department by department.”
Schmidt said the report is just that a report. No decisions have been made on the future of the village, its 44 full-time employees or its 19 part-timers (although the consultants have said likely 33 full-timers would retain their positions, as would six part-timers).
Every resident will get a chance to have their say on Oct. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the senior citizen’s building during a public hearing for both village and town residents. The consultants are expected to be on hand, along with members of both the village and town boards, to answer questions.
Copies of the plan are available at town and village offices and on the town Website, www.townofliberty.org.
After the hearing, the matter can be put to a village vote on the March ballot if the village board decides to order the referendum.
“It has to start with the village mayor and the village trustees,” Schmidt said. “It’s all in the hands of the village.”
Village Mayor Rube Smith did not return a call for comment.