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Citizens point out dissolution benefits

ODESSA—Tuesday, Dec. 7, Odessa village residents get to vote for or against dissolving the village.
Representatives from the village, towns of Catharine and Montour, and the county released a study saying costs for the towns would go up if Odessa dissolved, Nov. 10.  However, some are in favor of dissolving.
Jeff Greuber, Odessa resident and owner of Finger Lakes Accounting & Tax Service, said there are at least one-third of eligible voters in Odessa interested in dissolution.  That is the number of residents that signed a petition forcing Odessa to hold the Dec. 7 vote.  Village Clerk Kristi Pierce previously said the petition had 116 valid signatures.
Greuber said village residents would see the tax rate decrease if Odessa ceased to exist.  He added that overall, costs for the two towns would still go up like the study said.  Odessa is situated in Catharine and Montour.  If the village no longer existed, those towns would be responsible for the village residents.
He explained that after stripping away all of the costs that are unique to the village and leaving only the costs that are common to the village residents and the town residents, the village residents in the town of Catharine would see their tax rate per thousand decrease from $10.19 to $8.52 (a decrease of 16.4 percent). For the village residents in the town of Montour, the tax rate would decrease from $9.49 to $6.64 (a decrease of 30 percent).
Greuber said these calculations are based on the analysis provided in the Nov. 10 report. He quoted the representative from the N.Y. Council of Mayors, Wade Beltramo, saying that if the taxes were being assessed equitably between the town residents and the village residents, the dissolution of the village would have a negligible impact on the tax rate before or after dissolution.
“While the town residents would see an increase in their taxes as a result of dissolution, this analysis demonstrates that the village residents have been paying a disproportionate share of the tax burden,” said Greuber.  “No one likes to have their taxes go up, but, on the other hand, no one should be asked to shoulder a greater share of the tax burden for the same bundle of services.”
Greuber said he was also unsure of the towns needing to increase the number of employees if the village of Odessa dissolves.  He said the village currently employs one and a half employees in the department of public works. The town of Montour has estimated they will require an additional half-time employee as a result of dissolution and the town of Catharine estimates the need for two more employees.
Greuber added it was explained that about 60 percent of the wages of one of the two additional employees in Catharine would be allocated to the water system.  That portion of their pay would be funded by the water district, not by property taxes.
“It is not clear to me however, why it would take two and a half employees to assume the responsibilities of one and a half employees,” said Greuber. “The working group gathered a lot of data in a short amount of time and I can understand erring on the side of caution, but this just doesn’t make sense to me. If the referendum to dissolve is passed, there will be 180 days to further analyze this and other assumptions that were built into the analysis.”
Another point previously made by dissolution was the services that may be lost.  Odessa provides services like leaf and brush pick-up.  Greuber said for himself, that was never something he utilized.  He said that residents interested in something like leaf pick-up “could band together and contract it.”  Greuber added it doesn’t necessarily need to be through the village.


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