The village of Silver Creek is one square mile in size with a population of approximately 2,700 people. Its tax base is declining and its largest employer, Petri Baking Products, will soon be closing its doors.
The village clearly does not need a full-time, five-man police force. The move toward hiring the Chautauqua County Sheriff's to provide police services seems to make sense.
As a village resident, however, I am responsible for payment of both village tax and town and county tax. A portion of the town and county tax is used to fund the sheriff's department. The village of Silver Creek is, of course, located in the town of Hanover which has a contract with the sheriff's department for "enhanced protection." Now the village of Silver Creek has a similar contract so it appears that the residents of the village of Silver Creek pay three times for sheriff's protection.
I have nothing against the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department. I have worked with them in my professional capacity and think the men and women of that department do a great job. It just seems to me that paying three times for sheriff's protection in a village which already pays the highest taxes in Chautauqua County is overkill.
It is my understanding that both the sheriff and state police must respond to calls in the village of Silver Creek if there is no local force. It is not clear to me if village officials discussed with the town officials a joint proposal to the sheriff's department. It is also not clear if anyone approached the state police about what, if anything, they would do for the village.
What is clear is that we no longer need a village government.
The village board should dissolve. Once again I have nothing personal against any of the board members or the mayor as many of them are my friends and I have worked with them in the past. It does however appear that our need for village government no longer exists.
If the village government were dissolved the town board could certainly provide an acceptable level of local government. The village streets department, which is unionized and expensive, would be disbanded and perhaps some of those employees would be hired by the town. The town could obviously negotiate for police services for the village and the town.
The bottom line is that there is nothing the village board does for the taxpayers that the town board could not do if the village government were dissolved.
Andrew Kehrer is a Silver Creek resident.