Town of Pembroke officials ran through a series of issues Monday evening they might face if Village of Corfu residents go through with a referendum to dissolve their government.
There are legal questions to be answered and issues about how to resolve certain expenses related to the village, but in the end, Supervisor Annie Lawrence acknowledged, the question of dissolution isn't really the town board's call.
"We don't run the show," Lawrence said. "This is their decision. There isn't really anything the town can do other than be as prepared as we can be for the town to absorb the village."
The town will have to deal with issues related to village street lighting, brush pick up, sidewalks and police coverage, all under the legal obligation to ensure whatever is done for the village must a service provided to the entire town. Either that or set up special districts.
Town Attorney Mark Boylan said that in his opinion, there need not be a special district set up for street lights because the town currently has street lights at some intersections.
Since National Grid owns and maintains the village street lights, there is no anticipated future capital expense for the lights, just the $10,000 or so annually to keep them lit.
Street lights, then, can be a general fund expense shared by the entire town if there's no longer a village government.
Sidewalks are a stickier issue. There are some sidewalks in East Pembroke. But for the most part, the town doesn't need to repair or replace sidewalks, therefore it's harder to legally justify making sidewalks a town-wide expense, Boylan explained.
It's more likely, a sidewalk district would need to be defined for the area of the village and a special assessment levied on residents within that district.
Parts of the village that don't currently have sidewalks could, theoretically at least, be carved out of the district, but then a whole new district would need to be created if those neighborhoods ever wanted sidewalks.
On brush pick up, the town would either need to increase the frequency of pick up for the entire town, decrease the frequency for the village, or ask everybody to self-service brush drop-off at a composting station. The service would need to be equal across all areas of the town.
On the issue of police, in order for the village police department to survive the dissolution, the town would have to take on the expense of a police department that patrols the entire town. That would mean expanding the department, hiring more officers, buying patrol vehicles, thereby making the whole operation expensive.
Or the town could contract, perhaps for about $60,000 a year, with the Sheriff's Office to provide extra coverage in the town. While that would likely mean increased patrols in the village, the town cannot contract just for village coverage. The patrols would be responsible, during their shifts, for the entire town.
The village currently has about $250,000 in capital reserves. Boylan said he's waiting for clarification from the state on how that money could be used after the dissolution.
Could it be dedicated to the needs of the present village residents -- such as sidewalks -- or must it just get mixed in with the town's general fund?
"Unfortunately, the state is not every clear," Boylan said. "They are not very clear in the least on how this is supposed to play out."
One solution is for the village government to spend the reserves down if the dissolution resolution is passed by village residents, thereby ensuring the funds collected from village residents provides services for village residents.
No date has been set for a vote on dissolution. But when it does take place, dissolution cannot occur in the same year the vote is taken, so there will be some delay between the vote and the date the village government ceases to exist.