Opinion: Best interest for all to dissolve village into town, Morristown couple says
Friday, January 19, 2018 - 9:15 am

 

To the Editor:

It is not always easy to consider and accept change, especially a change of the magnitude of dissolving our village. It requires a large amount of work to enact this plan and conform with state requirements. It will take about 2 years to fully implement. The actual proposed date is Jan. 1, 2020 before the village could become a hamlet of the Town of Morristown and no longer a separate village entity.

From a personal perspective, the Wright family has lived and worked here since 1936 when Ron’s parents, Raymond & Jean Wright, operated a gas station and started the marine business known as Wright’s Sporting Goods. We as the second generation also operated the marine business from 1960 to 1995 when our son Randy and his wife Louise took ownership and continue to operate it today.

The village has served us well during these years and we like to think we have supported the village also. It didn’t use to seem like such a big deal to pay three taxes, but the total tax burden has increasingly become much higher and now makes it more difficult to do business with higher overhead. Just reducing one tax: Village, the marine business overhead will decrease by approximately $5,225. Personal village taxes would be reduced by approximately $3,266. Collectively that amounts to $8,491 for our families so from a personal view, relief from one tax is of utmost importance.

The savings projections are substantial for all village taxpayers. The tax impact on a home assessed at $50,000 could result in approximately $472 per year and a $15 per year increase for town taxpayers. Annual savings from state aid, awarded if the Village proceeds with dissolution, are estimated to be $143,290. The NYS representative who attended one of the study group meetings, stated this amount would be given to the town in perpetuity. The representative stated the amount is minimal compared to the state’s other costs, and most likely would never be withdrawn. The total annual savings projection through village dissolution is about $242,000. The numbers are provided by DANC, who is performing the study.

The village lost businesses over the years, partly due to high overhead costs related to taxes. Landlords have to charge higher rent to cover their costs. We have been unable to attract new businesses partly due to taxes. To see our village grow and create jobs we have to improve our area’s economy and encourage new development and growth. One way is to make it less expensive so people will live, build and work here.

The same houses have been for sale for months/years. People from outside the area come here as potential buyers and once they see how high the taxes are they decline buying. Judy is a real estate agent and had several condos listed for sale when they were first built. The tax assessment at that time was $200,000 per condo making the total of the 3 property taxes about $9,000 per year. The condos have received reduced assessments to now $145,000 which does reduce the tax cost but also they didn’t appraise for $200,000 since the owners were selling them for less to market them.

It only makes sense to dissolve the village and consolidate our services with the town. The town can provide benefits we now receive as village residents and the cost to town taxpayers, including people who live in the village, will go up very slightly. Village residents are part of the town, have always paid town taxes and will continue to contribute their share to town expenses.

All people regardless of where they live and pay taxes have use of Village amenities such as the public boat launch, the park, the ball fields, the streets and street lights, ice rink, fire department facilities etc. and the costs to maintain these should be shared overall, not just by village residents. The town projected annual tax increase will be approximately 30¢ per $1,000 of assessed value, which is minimal for contributing to the continued use of these amenities.

The fire department will become a fire district, and will operate the same as the Brier Hill Fire Dept. now operates. Ambulance and fire services will remain in effect.

The village sewer and water system will remain as a separate district and will be funded by the users of this utility. Village employees can become town employees or to have attained retirement status at the time dissolution should become effective.

If village residents can eliminate the cost of village taxes, the overall increase to all town taxpayers is very low, and all services will remain in effect, it is only logical and sensible to consolidate.

It would be in everyone’s best interest to see the dissolution move forward. It is only to benefit us and to make living in today’s high costs more affordable.

We encourage our village mayor and board to move forward with a dissolution vote.

Ron and Judy Wright

Morristown