CHAUMONT — Residents will receive an update Thursday night on officials’ ongoing study to help determine whether to dissolve the village government.
The Development Authority of the North Country, the consultant in the dissolution study process, last week released the first major report of the study detailing existing conditions of both the village and town of Lyme, including their finances, services, real property assessments and laws.
The dissolution committee, consisting of various town and village officials, will host an informational meeting about the report at 7 p.m. Thursday at Chaumont Fire Hall, 11385 Route 12E. The report can be found online at https://www.danc.org/chaumont-study.
Star Carter, assistant director of engineering for DANC, said the report provides the committee a comprehensive understanding of the services each municipality provides and their costs, essential information when recommending whether to dissolve the village government or take other appropriate actions. Meeting attendees will have the chance to learn about the report and committee’s work over the past several months, as well as provide feedback on the report. The committee will evaluate whether to update the report based on feedback.
“We’re just trying to get the information out there for village residents,” said Lyme Town Supervisor Scott G. Aubertine.
The village Board of Trustees pitched dissolving the government last year after a long time of struggling with limited resources and tightening budgets. Ensuring the village remains cash solvent each year amid rising costs and maintaining old equipment and facilities has proven difficult, particularly with a lack of volunteers for trustee positions.
If the village government dissolved, the town would absorb much, if not all, of the village’s services and assets, although Mr. Aubertine said new districts for water, sewer and lighting services would have to be formed. Terminating the village government also offers the possibility of lowering villagers’ taxes. Ms. Carter said. However, he said dissolution is not the only option explored during the dissolution study, for there are alternatives for shared services. After the meeting Thursday, the committee and DANC will explore other possible actions while further evaluating dissolution.
“In general, it’s not only about dissolution,” Ms. Carter said. “There may be ways the village and town can share certain services that result in cost savings.”
The committee has yet to determine the possible effects of dissolution, but the report explored the state aid that might be provided upon dissolution.
The state provides an annual Citizens Empowerment Tax Credit that would equate to 15 percent of the combined real property tax levies of the village and town from the year before dissolution. Based on fiscal year 2018 data, which resulted in a combined levy of $370,065, the consolidated town would receive $55,510 annually in perpetuity, lowering the levy to $314,555.
“This is just a complete estimate based on that tax credit,” Ms. Carter said. “It gives people a ballpark figure.”
Votes on terminating the village layer of government were brought to the table in 1999 and 2012, and residents rejected dissolution both times.