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Seneca Falls Dissolution Vote Stands

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Rochester: Seneca Falls Dissolution Vote Stands
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Last week, people in the village of Seneca Falls approved a proposition to dissolve the village government.

It passed by just 105 votes, but the final outcome hinged on absentee and affidavit ballots.

Officials at the Seneca County Board of Elections counted 136 votes on Tuesday, which included absentee, affidavit and military ballots from last week’s election.

There were 56 "yes" votes, 75 "no" and five blank votes, which was not enough to overturn the 105-vote margin that favored dissolving the village. Village government in Seneca Falls will end December 31, 2011.

"People are fearful of their jobs,” said village administrator Connie Sowards. "Residents like what they have. To a great extent it's been, especially the last few weeks, it's been demoralizing for a lot of people both staff and people in the community that are just terrified."

It's the fear of the unknown that has village employees and some residents feeling uneasy. The town supervisor believes that will subside once the transition to one government begins.

"Hopefully those problems will dissolve and people will start to realize that Seneca Falls is not going any place,” said Peter Same. “The town is still here and we will still have our history that has been with us for many, many years."

Some village residents say there are still many unanswered questions ranging from potential tax savings to police protection.

Town residents will see a tax increase while those living in the village are expected to save about 48 percent on their taxes. The Seneca Meadows landfill is the main economic engine and some think that revenue will begin running out in just a few years.

"I believe by then maybe we can contribute in different ways and see what we really need and what positions we really need and what types of things we really need in our town and village,” Twyla Keeler said. “That will help us downsize or consolidate too just like any other big business."

Some say they are fearful the village police department will be eliminated. There is a plan to create a police district where the current police department would continue patrolling village streets.

"They've never been proactive,” Jack Pross said of the police. “We have a parking issue here. Everyone agrees there aren't enough parking spaces and there's a two-hour limit, but yet they don't enforce it to the point where a week ago we had a truck out here, a dump truck with a trailer on it that took three parking spaces. You'd think the police would notice but they don't."

Other residents say there should have been a trial period where the town and village shared some services before moving forward with the plan to dissolve.

"I believe they went right into the study and out came the dissolution and that was that,” explained Mary Howe. “I don't think enough was done on working on the shared services."

Town leaders said they expect work to begin on the government transition at their next board meeting on April 6.

Seneca Falls

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