Cherry Creek unveils dissolution details

OBSERVER Photo by Greg Fox Kent Gardner of CGR discusses the village of Cherry Creek’s dissolution plan draft during a public hearing.

CHERRY CREEK — Come next year, the village of Cherry Creek could be history, but most of its current services will still be intact.

The village board held a public hearing on its dissolution plan draft recently in the Cherry Creek Fire Hall. Kent Gardner of CGR (the Center for Governmental Research), the village’s dissolution consultant, explained to interested stakeholders that taxes are poised to decrease as a result of incentives from New York state and Chautauqua County.

“A couple things will happen,” he explained. “One is … the town of Cherry Creek, the surviving entity, will get 15 percent of the total levy of the village and the town prior to dissolution and get that basically forever.

“So it’s about $90,000 that the state will write a check to the town every year until they change the law (for the Citizens Empowerment Tax Credit). You certainly are going to be made whole by the state (as a result of this process).

“The other thing that happened, and that’s more recent, is the County Legislature approved a county statute that says that in the case of Cherry Creek, when the community dissolves, the county is going to give the town the amount of the sales tax that the village would’ve received that year. So you’re going to get the sales tax anyway because you’re eligible for it at the town, but they’re also going to give you another (amount of money); that’s just a one-time thing, but it’s a chunk of money, and it’s limited … (to) no more than $50,000.”

OBSERVER Photo by Greg Fox Acting Cherry Creek Village Mayor Bruce Hendricks speaks during a public hearing on the dissolution plan draft.

Gardner noted these two streams of revenue will help the town absorb the village’s municipal affairs while lowering the town tax rate at the same time. He added the town is obligated to reduce taxes by the state.

When the village dissolves, special districts will be created to maintain specific services, thus ensuring those who benefit from the services are the only ones paying for them. Four districts will be created — water, sewer, lighting and sidewalk plowing — though the overall village tax will disappear.

Since just about everyone in the village has potable water, the village’s remaining revenue — once the dissolution takes effect at the end of the year — will be transferred into a reserve account for the water district. That way, people who paid village taxes will still have that money solely for their own benefit, not the benefit of the town as a whole.

Acting Village Mayor Bruce Hendricks mentioned the town will not create a special district for garbage collection, meaning any residents who had that service will have to contract with an outside agency.

“(That decision) was based on what the villagers had told us about the difficulty with the bags, the difficulty with pickups and the town people don’t have it and we get along just fine having private,” Town Supervisor William Young added.

Gardner linked Cherry Creek’s dissolution initiative to Chautauqua County’s finalist status in the state’s Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition, which has a grand prize of $20 million. He said Cherry Creek “in some ways was the entrance ticket” for the competition, as the state required one active merger or dissolution in order to be eligible.

In turning to the next steps in the dissolution process, Gardner pointed out the village board will meet to consider the formal adoption of a final plan. That meeting is slated for Monday at 7 p.m. in Village Hall.

The final plan will not go into effect until 45 days after its adoption. During that time, a petition can be received for a referendum on the plan. If voters accept the plan during the referendum, it goes into effect. If the plan is rejected, the issue cannot be revisited for four years.

“So that’s something you’ll have a choice about,” Gardner told the audience. “If you think this is a mistake, you don’t like the plan, you want to defeat the plan, you have this outlet. You can go out and do a petition drive.”

Village residents made their collective voices heard when they overwhelmingly voted on Feb. 2 to dissolve their government into the town. The tally was 81 people in favor of dissolution and 32 against, according to the Chautauqua County Board of Elections; that’s nearly 72 percent wanting change.

The referendum was held after the village received a valid petition in November.

To view the dissolution plan draft in its entirety, go to www.villageofcherrycreek.org and click on the “Government” tab. The study is also available for viewing at the village office, the post office, the Cherry Creek Library and Crossroads Groceries.

Email: gfox@observertoday.com. Twitter: @gfoxnews


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