The Village Board, Village of Lyons, New York has scheduled a public hearing for Monday, October 28, 2013. The hearing will start at 6:30 P.M. and take place at the Lyons Community Center, 4 Manhattan Street, Lyons, New York 14489. The purpose of the hearing is to allow the residents of Lyons the opportunity to hear and consider comments from the public in regards to the Village of Lyons Dissolution Plan. Executive Summary The Village of Lyons is a full-service local government serving approximately 3500*(source: US Census figures, rounded) residents.
It is located within the Town of Lyons, which is also served by its own municipal entity, serving an additional estimated 2300*. A history of cooperative governance between the two boards resulted in several shared services, highlighted in a study prepared in 2011. In 2012, petitions calling for dissolution of the Village of Lyons were submitted to the Board of Trustees, which initiated a legal process in accordance with GML Article 17-A and resulted in a public referendum.
In November of 2012, voters approved a measure to dissolve the Village, which initiated a planning process also dictated by Statute. The Village appointed a Dissolution Committee to contemplate an optimal and implementable plan for dissolution and estimate its financial impacts on government services and resulting implications to taxpayers. This Dissolution Plan is a result of that planning process. PLANNING and FINDINGS In order to contemplate the optimal delivery of services by the Town of Lyons following dissolution of the Village, the Committee initiated an examination of current Village services, which would become the responsibility of the Town. This examination included review of services and their costs: operational methodologies, personnel requirements, associated wage and benefit costs, equipment and assets required, historic challenges and successes, and levels of service expected by taxpayers. The result of this analysis was identification of options for delivering services following dissolution of the Village, as well as options for alternatives to dissolution, should a second vote occur which reverses the decision to dissolve the Village. The Committee then selected optimal options and included them in this plan. DISSOLUTION PLAN The recommended options for optimal delivery of services following dissolution include: Police Services: There will be a Town-wide Police Department, consisting of 7 full-time employees. An additional 6 part-time employees will be utilized. Public safety will remain a priority service and level of service is anticipated to remain at current levels.
Fire Department: The Village Fire Department will cease to exist and a Fire District wilt be established. There are no recommended changes in staffing, operations, or level of service. All Village assets associated with delivery of this service would transfer to the ownership of the District, along with all Village liabilities associated. The current Village Reserve Account for the Fire Department will be utilized to reduce the debt prior to transfer to the District.
Other Public Safety: There is no anticipated change in delivery of service associated with the Town Ambulance Service or the Town Animal Control service. Code Enforcement I Zoning: The Dissolution Committee anticipates that service levels can be maintained utilizing a reduced staff of one part-time Code Enforcement Officer. Administrative support has been eliminated, assuming that existing administrative staff in the Town will support the function. The Town will, following the dissolution of the Village, enforce existing Village laws for a period of two years, or until such time as they amend or adopt new laws in their place.
Court: The Town Court will provide all judicial services, utilizing two part-time Court Justices and one full-time Court Clerk. Court wilt be co-located with the Police Department in order to provide the presence of security professional without incurring the additional costs of dedicated staff. There are one-time building modification costs associated with this recommendation.
Water & Sewer: Water and Sewer Funds are maintained separately from the General Fund, and as such do not affect property tax rates. The Funds support operational costs, and are supported by the collection of water and sewer rents (usage fees). There is no change anticipated in the delivery of water and sewer services. It is anticipated those operations remain unaffected, although several financial implications result from the shift of financial support for one position entirely to the Water and Sewer Funds. The Committee recommends the Town Board review water and sewer rates at a later time, independent of this analysis.
Administration & Finance: Administrative staff for this general governmental support function will be reduced. Also eliminated are the Village’s legislative positions. Changes to the fund distribution for personnel costs result in a reduction in General Fund expenses, but correlating increases to the Water and Sewer Funds. Contractual expenses for insurances, legal, and other services are anticipated to be reduced. Establishment of an Alloway Lighting District, a Village Lighting District, a Village Debt District, and a Part-town District will provide the Town a means of attributing financial responsibility for expenses related to lighting, former Village debt and employee obligations, and Town retiree benefits. Public Works: There is no anticipated change in delivery of services, operations, utilization of assets, or staffing to provide these services. In anticipation of the Town’s decision to pay like salaries for like positions, cost estimates are based on that assumption. The Committee recommends tracking of equipment usage post-dissolution and as excess equipment is identified, it be excluded from the inventory of assets in the manner most appropriate.
Undistributed Employee Benefits:
Representing the largest anticipated savings in operational expenses, changes in employee benefits result from the loss of status which will occur when Village employees are terminated upon dissolution. As “new” employees of the Town, the Town’s contributions to their hospital/medical benefits will be capped at $5000. Staff reductions also affect this total, resulting in reductions in municipal contributions to Social Security, State Retirement, and other required employment-related expenses. Distribution of Assets & Records: All assets (real property, equipment, reserve funds, etc.) and records in the possession of the Village will, at the time of dissolution, be transferred in their entirety to the Town, with the exception of assets and records related to fire protection services. These assets and records will instead be transferred to the Fire District, along with the Village liabilities associated with provision of fire protection. Debt/Liabilities: Village debt consists of outstanding liability for projects and equipment purchases. All Village General Fund debt (not including debt associated with Water and Sewer Funds) will become continued obligations of the Village Debt District, created by the Town to contain these costs. Additionally, Village obligations to retirees, as well as Workers Compensation-related liabilities, will become continued liabilities of the Village Debt District.
Laws & Agreements: GML Article 17-A provides a two-year period within which former village laws must be enforced by the Town. During that time, the Town Board will review existing Village Laws, and amend, revise, or adopt those laws as deemed appropriate by the Town Board. All Village agreements in place prior to dissolution will transfer to the town, although the Town may desire to renegotiate those agreements in the best interests of Town residents. Date of Dissolution: Dissolution will occur on December 31, 2015.
FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS of DISSOLUTION The financial impacts of the collective recommendations of the Dissolution Committee reflect the above considerations. The Dissolution Plan projects an anticipated annual savings of $504,929. Additionally, costs formerly associated with General Fund expenses which have shifted to District expenses further reduce the annual impact on General Fund (from which the tax levy is derived) by $691,941. This total further reduces the resulting tax rate, but also creates a correlating increase in district taxes. Property tax rates following the dissolution of the Village will result in elimination of the Village tax, an increase in the Town tax, as well as creation of new District taxes. Upon dissolution of the Village, the total tax rate for a (former) Village property owner will change from $24.76 to $15.28, a reduction of 38%. This calculation includes the additional Aid and Incentive for Municipalities (AIM). Without the additional AIM, the post-dissolution tax rate would be $17.86, or a 28% tax reduction. All projected tax rates for Lyons community residents appear in the tables below. For the sake of simplicity, Water and Sewer districts (i.e.: the New Route 31 Sewer District) that are unaffected by dissolution are not included.
ONE-TIME COSTS of DISSOLUTION Several one-time costs are associated with the dissolution process and implementation of the dissolution plan. These costs include video-taping and preparation of Dissolution Committee meeting minutes, and legal notices. Plan implementation costs include estimates for renovation costs, unemployment contributions, legal fees, audits and closing of the Village books, insurances and financial as well as elimination of the liability associated with employees’ claims for compensation/benefits earned but not yet received. The total one-time costs for Dissolution are estimated at $888,205.
ALTERNATIVES to DISSOLUTION The Committee determined, in the course of analyzing governmental services, that many of the options for post-dissolution services identified could, in fact, be implemented in the absence of dissolution. The Committee’s recommendation for Alternatives to Dissolution, therefore, is for the Village of Lyons, should the Village not be dissolved, to implement the provisions of the Dissolution Plan wherever possible. The Dissolution Plan recommendations selected for “Alternatives to Dissolution” include elimination of the Village Court; reduction of Code Enforcement and Zoning staff; establishment of a Fire District, reductions in staffing of the Police Department and elimination of a partial shift; reduction of (general government) administrative staff; co- location of Town and Village administrative staff; and co-location of Town Court with Village Police Department. Changes in salaries and reduction in costs of employee-related benefits could not be achieved by implementing Alternatives to Dissolution, however nearly every other benefit of the recommended changes in staffing, co-location of services, or redistribution of support from Water and Sewer funds could be achieved. In addition, establishing the Fire District shifts the related expenses from the General Fund (and therefore the Village tax rate) to a Fire District Tax to be collected by the town, in the same manner as the Dissolution Plan.
FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS of ALTERNATIVES to DISSOLUTION The financial impacts of the collective recommendations for Alternatives to Dissolution reflect the above considerations. In addition, previously received annual revenues, specifically the Utilities Gross Receipts Tax of $45,000 would be retained. The substantial increase in Aid and Incentive to Municipalities (AIM), estimated at $444,048, resulting from the Village dissolution will not be received. The proposed plan for Alternatives projects an anticipated annual savings of $234,275. Additionally, costs formerly associated with General Fund expenses which have shifted to District expenses further reduce the annual impact on the General Fund (from which the tax levy is derived) by $329,541. This total further reduces the resulting tax rate, but also creates a correlating increase in district taxes. Property tax rates following the implementation of Alternatives to Dissolution will result in a reduction in the Village Tax rate, as well as creation of a new Fire District Tax. Upon implementation of the recommended Alternatives to Dissolution, the total tax rate for a Village property owner will change from $24.76 to $21.84, a reduction of 13%. All projected tax rates resulting from the implementation of Alternatives to Dissolution appear in the tables below. For the sake of simplicity, Water and Sewer districts (i.e.: the New Route 31 Sewer District) that are unaffected by dissolution are not included.
ONE-TIME COSTS of IMPLEMENTATION of ALTERNATIVES to DISSOLUTION Several one-time costs are associated with the implementation of Alternatives to Dissolution. For the sake of fairness in comparing one-time costs of Dissolution to those of implementation of Alternatives, these estimates still include the costs associated with preparation of this plan, such as video-taping and Dissolution Committee meeting minutes, legal notices, and local grant match requirements. Implementation of Alternatives to Dissolution results in one-time costs. Estimates include renovation costs, unemployment contributions, and legal fees. The total of the one-time costs for Implementation of Alternatives to Dissolution are estimated to be $204,634. The complete plan can be found www.lyonsny.com or www.lyonsdissoIution.org.
The Dissolution Plan is available for review at the Village Office, 76 William Street between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. Your participation at this public meeting is important, and it is our hope you will join us for this critical discussion.