Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $204,950 in Citizen Re-Organization Empowerment Grant (CREG) awards to five municipalities in the State to study and implement village dissolutions. CREG awards are part of the Local Government Efficiency Program, managed by the New York State Division of Local Government Services, and are designed to provide funding assistance to local governments to plan for and implement municipal reorganizations.
By consolidating and sharing services, local governments can help tackle one of the single-greatest financial burdens on New Yorks families and businesses sky-high property taxes, Governor Cuomo said. We have made great progress in capping and cutting property taxes over the past few years, and these grants will take that work to the next level by helping local governments come together to reduce costs. I am proud that the State is partnering with these villages and towns, and I encourage other local governments across the State to work cooperatively in order to reduce the burden of property taxes.
The CREG program provides funding assistance to local governments to plan for and implement municipal restructuring. This program is part of Governor Cuomo's continuing efforts to address the main driver of property taxes the high number of local governments and to provide taxpayer relief through innovative analysis of governmental functions and services. The CREG program accepts applications from municipalities throughout the year at www.grantsgateway.ny.gov.
The awards are as follows:
- $45,000, Village of Greenwich, Washington County Village Dissolution Study
- $50,000, Town of AuSable, Clinton County Keeseville Dissolution Implementation for the Town of AuSable
- $50,000, Town of Chesterfield, Essex County Village of Keeseville Dissolution and Water System Merger
- $49,950, Village of Bridgewater, Oneida County Village of Bridgewater Dissolution Implementation
- $10,000, Village of Hermon, St. Lawrence County Village of Hermon Dissolution Study
The Village of Greenwich will receive $45,000 to initiate a village dissolution study in response to a citizens' petition which was filed on March 10, 2014. The study will provide information to the electorate prior to the upcoming referendum on whether the Village shall be dissolved. If a majority of the votes on the referendum are in favor of dissolution, the study will be used in developing a dissolution plan, as required under General Municipal Law 17-A.
Greenwich Mayor David Noonan said, "The Village of Greenwich is honored to receive a grant from the New York State Department of State to assist in our dissolution study. By starting the study group early, should the public vote to dissolve the Village at the referendum scheduled for June 24, we will have in essence a nine-month window to develop the plan, rather than the six months outlined in the law. Should the public vote not to dissolve the Village, the Village is committed to transforming the dissolution study group into one that will analyze how shared services could benefit the Village and the Towns of Easton and Greenwich."
The Towns of AuSable and Chesterfield will receive $50,000 each to assist with expenditures associated with preparing for the dissolution of the Village of Keeseville on December 31, 2014. In the Town of Chesterfield, the Village Water System will merge into the Town's Water District #1. The Town of AuSable will create water and sewer districts, purchase billing software, and remove asbestos in the Civic Center, which will be obtained by the Town as a result of the dissolution, so the building may be used by municipal staff.
AuSable Town Supervisor Sandy Senecal said, Taxpayers in our community expect and deserve an efficient local government that works for them. The Town of AuSable Town Board applauds Governor Cuomo for recognizing the needs of our community and providing the funding that will assist in consolidating local government services and result in shared services that will benefit the entire community.
Chesterfield Town Supervisor Gerald H. Morrow said, "We are grateful for the funds awarded today that answers the needs of our community. I would personally like to thank Governor Cuomo for listening to our community and delivering these funds that will go a long way towards improving and consolidating services that will no doubt benefit our entire community for years to come."
The Village of Bridgewater will receive $49,950 towards the implementation of a dissolution plan. Residents in the Village of Bridgewater voted last month in favor of dissolving the Village by a margin of 40 to eight. In preparation for the December 31, 2014 dissolution, the Village intends to sell the Village Hall and transfer personal and real property assets of the Village to the Town of Bridgewater. In addition, pursuant to Local Finance Law, a qualified external Certified Public Accountant will need to properly audit and close out Village records prior to transfer to the Town.
Bridgewater Mayor Gary Comstock said, "The Village of Bridgewater is extremely grateful to have been awarded a New York State Department of State Citizens Reorganization Empowerment Grant. With these funds, we will be able to answer the call of the voters of the Village, who overwhelmingly approved, by a five-to-one margin, a referendum to dissolve the Village of Bridgewater. We would like to thank Governor Cuomo and the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate, for making such funding available. In addition, we would like to thank the New York Department of State for its support. The process of dissolution or consolidation can appear to be a daunting task, but, with both the technical and financial assistance offered by the State of New York, we are confident of a successful outcome."
Finally, the Village of Hermon is seeking information for the residents of both the Town and Village of Hermon about the potential impacts of village dissolution, including likely effects on both the residents and the local governments. This study will consider potential financial savings, management improvements and service delivery changes that would result from a local government re-organization, as well as alternatives to dissolution that would result in cost savings.
Hermon Village Mayor Cathy Race said, "I am very pleased to be receiving this aid from the State as we work to make our local government more efficient. By identifying opportunities to share services and cut costs, we can make our community more affordable for people to live, raise a family, or grow a business. This is a great example of how Governor Cuomo has been helping us meet local needs in the North Country, and I am happy to be partnering with the State in this effort."
Communities considering consolidation may be eligible for a CREG award to assist with studying the feasibility of dissolution or consolidation or to assist with the implementation itself. Deadlines for applications are 4:00PM on the first Wednesday of each month. Local governments can now submit CREG applications and receive award notification online via the new Gateway Grant Opportunity Portal at www.grantsgateway.ny.gov.