Hanover, Cherry Creek to receive state aid

Municipalities in Chautauqua County have received funding due to their dissolution and consolidation efforts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that $9.7 million dollars of the Citizen Empowerment Tax Credit funds has made its way to local governments across New York state where dissolution was approved.

Among the municipalities receiving funding is the town of Hanover due to the dissolution of the village of Forestville in 2017. Hanover received $185,643.

The town of Cherry Creek will also receive annual state funds beginning this year. However, the amount has yet to be determined. The town will benefit due to the dissolution of the village of Cherry Creek, which also occurred in 2017.

“I commend these local governments for working together with their communities to increase efficiency and decrease layers of bureaucracy in order to lower costs and tackle property taxes, which are still the most onerous tax in New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We will continue to work with any locality that seeks to explore ways to modernize and streamline their operations in order to deliver tax relief for their residents.”

Hanover Town Councilman Louis Pelletter said he has been diligent in making sure the funds were received in full. Every year, due to the dissolution of Forestville, the town should receive the funds from not only the state tax credit, but also Aid and Incentive For Municipalities.

According to the New York State Division of the Budget, AIM is unrestricted state aid for municipalities. For 2018, the town was slated to receive an increase in AIM funds of $5,904, bringing the total to $39,887.

Pelletter said the funds should be received by the town every year as long as the programs exist. “I’ve been working on this,” he said. “I wanted to make sure we got our money.”

About 70 percent of the funds should go back to the taxpayers in Hanover, 30 percent of which will go into the town’s general fund. At this point, the town is figuring out the best way of getting the funds to the taxpayers.

“We’ve never done this before,” Pelleter said. “We’re looking at what is the most cost effective way to do it.”

County Executive George Borrello said he remains committed to government efficiency despite having a different position in county government.

“Forestville is reaping the benefits of the choice that the people made to eliminate a dysfunctional government and become part of the town of Hanover,” Borrello said. “At the same time, there are other opportunities out there for us to create better, more efficient government that costs less through consolidation efforts.”

Borrello said he is proud of his leadership role in consolidation efforts as a legislator and will continue them as county executive.

As for the dissolution process in Hanover, Pelletter said it has been a lot of work, but has been worth it in the long run. He said everything has been going well, and the residents appear to be benefitting from the arrangement.

“I think it’s going well,” he said. “I think everybody made out and (the residents) are getting some nice services from the town.”

Pelletter said in the transition, the town had to form a lighting district and a fire district and took over the water district.

In 2011, Cuomo created the Citizen Empowerment Tax Credit to give aid to governments working on consolidations or dissolutions. The aid each year is equal to 15 percent of the combined amount of real property taxes levied by all the municipalities involved in the consolidation or dissolution and will not exceed $1 million.

Seventy percent of the funds must be returned to residents within the local governing area in the form of property tax relief.