Written by Joe Rizza Friday, 12 March 2010 00:00
If you want to dissolve the village you live in, you can dissolve it beginning March 22 as a new law that gives residents the power to consolidate and dissolve villages and special taxing districts takes effect. The process involves circulating a petition and with enough signatures, you can force a referendum to dissolve the village or special district. The question is, at least in the case of villages, why would you want to?
In the case of the Village of Mineola, the village provides fire service, sanitation services, snow removal, highway and road maintenance, a pool, a library as well as other services and village-sponsored events. If the village were to be dissolved, those services would have to be picked up by taxing districts or other forms of government.
Critics of the new law believe that dissolving entities such as villages would only create bigger governmental entities and increase the chances for waste, fraud and abuse.
“It will be a very sad day on March 22 and I know there are groups out there from outside the villages that are organizing to take out villages,” said Mineola Mayor Jack M. Martins, who has opposed the law with fellow mayors and village officials.
The law allows anybody to circulate petitions to dissolve any village or special taxing district. A petition containing signatures of 10 percent of the registered voters in the village or signatures of 5,000 registered voters in the village (whichever is less) would force a referendum, which must be held between 60 to 90 days after the petition is approved by the clerk.
“You know what that would do to the village,” said Mayor Martins. “How do you conduct business at that point? You’re about to have a vote on whether or not to dissolve your village.”
A simple majority would dissolve the special district or village. After that, the municipality that is being dissolved must formulate a plan within 210 days after the referendum for other governmental entities to assume the services that were being provided.
If someone finds the plan to be unacceptable, a petition requiring the signatures of 25 percent of registered voters or 15,000 registered voters (whichever is less) would force a referendum. If the referendum fails, the plan goes into effect and the government is dissolved. If the referendum passes, the process starts all over again.
“Villages are the most efficient and effective form of local government,” said Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro. “Most village residents like that fact that they live in a place where the government is responsive and accessible. For each village that is dissolved, a plethora of special districts would have to be formed in order to provide the necessary services, which would be much more costly and inefficient than what residents in villages already have.”
The Village of Mineola Board of Trustees will hold a budget work session on the 2010-2011 budget on Wednesday, March 31 at Mineola Village Hall, 155 Washington Avenue, at 6:30 p.m.
The Village of Mineola Board of Trustees will then hold a budget hearing on Thursday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. in Mineola Village Hall.