CORINTH -- Passions over dissolution are peaking in Corinth, although a considerable number of questions remain about the impact such a move would have on village and town taxpayers.

Nearly 50 residents came to an informational session on Wednesday night, when results from a yearlong dissolution study were put up for discussion. It was the largest turnout at any meeting held since a group of residents began studying the issue last September.

Those who attended had questions about a range of topics, including how village debt would be handled, how village assets such as the village hall would be discarded and which services currently enjoyed by village residents would be kept and which ones dropped.

Residents also asked what would happen to a payment in lieu of taxes agreement between the village and EPCOR, the hydroelectric company, and whether residents should expect incentive payments from the state.

Corinth could receive as much as $400,000 a year - 15 percent of the combined town and village assessed value - from the state if the municipalities combined, but officials fear the money might not be forthcoming given the financial straits New York is in.

According to estimates included in a report outlining dissolution options, a village taxpayer with a $100,000 home could shave as much as $145 a year from his local property tax bill if the village were to dissolve, and as much as $242 if the state agrees to make the incentive payments. A town resident could save up to $48, or could pay $48 more if no state aid is received, projections show.

The estimates are based on each government's latest budgets. A village resident with a $100,000 home would pay $1,135 in village taxes, including water and sewer fees, and a town resident would pay $391 a year in town taxes under the current structure.

Study authors and committee members could not definitively respond to many of the questions raised by residents, saying the ambiguity could only be resolved when dissolution occurs.

"You simply can't answer every question," said Joseph Stefko, a consultant with the Committee for Governmental Research, which helped with the study.

Fewer than a half-dozen villages in New York have dissolved over the last decade and even those have few parallels to Corinth, officials said.

"Just about every village has the same functions, but all of the villages have different amounts of money associated with those functions," said Tim Murphy, who chairs the 12-member resident study committee.

Whatever questions remain, some residents said they believe the issue should be put before village residents for a vote.

Town residents would not be allowed to vote on the proposal. Village trustees could use the work produced by the study committee to craft a dissolution plan and call for a villagewide vote.

At a recent meeting of the committee, 11 of the 12 members said they wanted to recommend the Village Board not move forward with dissolution. One said the committee should recommend a vote be held.

Some audience members charged that the committee had been too heavily influenced by government employees and their opinions had been formed even before the study was done.

"There is nothing in this report that should preclude residents from voting on this issue," said Bob Hudak, a village resident.

Committee members are expected to vote on their final recommendation at a meeting scheduled for Nov. 3. If the Village Board decides not to call a vote, a resident-driven petition could still force the issue onto the ballot.


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