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Official notes dislike for mergers

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Dunkirk Town Councilman Phil Leone speaks at a recent meeting of the Town Board.

Town of Dunkirk Councilman Phil Leone is an avid reader of the OBSERVER. At a recent Town Board meeting, Leone spoke to how often he reads about a certain topic — consolidation — and he is not a fan.

“I don’t think that our constituents understand what consolidation would mean for the Town of Dunkirk,” Leone said.

Citing an OBSERVER editorial that claimed Silver Creek has balked at consolidation “for no good reason other than to keep an identity,” Leone made his opinion clear when it comes to his neck of the woods.

“I think we have a good reason not to consolidate,” Leone said.

Leone highlighted the current financial state of both the City of Dunkirk and the Village of Fredonia. He claimed, “We seem to be the only fiscally responsible town in western Chautauqua County.”

The Town of Dunkirk Justice Court collected $29,924 in the month of April, stemming from 309 cases. The Town Clerk’s office collected $2,288.84 in the month of April. The second quarter sales tax amount received by the Town was $105,326.30.

The Town of Dunkirk houses many local businesses, including the various establishments on Vineyard Drive, such as Applebee’s and Tops Friendly Market, as well as nearby Bennett Road businesses such as the Dunkirk Multiplex and Planet Fitness.

Meanwhile, the City of Dunkirk is “working very, very hard … to try and right the ship,” according to Ellen Luczkowiak, Fiscal Affairs Officer for the City of Dunkirk. The Dunkirk Common Council recently approved an $18.5 million bond lifeline for the City due to a projected $17 million negative fund balance by year’s end.

Leone also spoke to Fredonia’s ongoing water system saga and the financial issues that it causes for the Village, which Leone mentioned has a general fund deficit of approximately $900,000.

Leone also shared a letter from attorney Rich Morrisroe, in which Morrisroe stated he and Dunkirk Mayor Kate Wdowiasz share a desire to consolidate the Town with the City of Dunkirk and the Village of Fredonia, with water, police, and fire departments as shared services between the municipalities.

“I don’t know about that. I don’t think our constituents understand what consolidation would mean as far as taxes increased. All of these towns seem to be in the red. We’re not in the red,” Leone said.

Town Supervisor Priscilla Penfold responded to Leone’s comments, “My opinion is that it would be great for other communities. It would be a detriment to the Town of Dunkirk.”

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen

Dunkirk Town Councilman Phil Leone voiced his strong opposition to consolidation of the Town of Dunkirk at a recent meeting of the Town Board.

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