December 22, 2016

New York Department of State Announces $245,000 in Grant Awards to Assist with Local Government Dissolutions and Consolidations

New York Department of State Announces $245,000 in Grant Awards to Assist with Local Government Dissolutions and Consolidations
Awards Will Help Towns and Municipalities Implement and Streamline Government Operations

The New York Department of State (DOS) today announced eight Local Government Citizens Reorganization Empowerment Grants (CREG) totaling $245,000 to assist municipalities in upstate New York with government reorganizations.  Seven towns and villages will received the grants to implement consolidation and explore dissolutions and consolidations that will streamline government operations and bring lower taxes to the residents of these communities.

“The Department of State is committed to assisting municipalities across the State in their efforts to consolidate, share services and reduce duplicative local government services to achieve cost-savings for their taxpayers,” said New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “These Villages and Towns are taking steps toward simpler, more cost-efficient government, while continuing to provide valuable services.”

The Village of Port Henry and the Town of Moriah, in Essex County, will each receive an award of $50,000 to assist in the implementation of the Village dissolution.  In June, 2015, the Village was petitioned to hold a dissolution referendum and on October 27, 2015, the referendum passed. The Village created and approved a Dissolution Plan, which was upheld by voters in August 2016.  With a dissolution to occur on March 31, 2017, the Village Board has a limited amount of time to accomplish the necessary tasks associated with Village dissolution; these funds will assist the Village and the Town make the transition in a timely manner.

“The grant money the State has provided the Village of Port Henry and Town of Moriah is huge,” said Village of Port Henry Deputy Mayor Matthew Brassard.  “Without the first fifty-thousand from the State to do the quick overview of what dissolution would look like, the voters would have gone to the voting booth not really knowing what would happen if they voted to dissolve. The second fifty-thousand, once the Village residents decided they wanted to dissolve, has been a help in paying for things related to the dissolution.”

“This grant has helped assist both the Village of Port Henry and the Town of Moriah in the dissolution process of the Village,” said Town of Moriah Supervisor Thomas R. Scozzafava, “The consolidation of Government Services will save property taxpayer’s money in our community by the elimination of a duplication of services and streamlining government. Without the hands on assistance and also the financial assistance from the DOS this would not have been possible.”

The Village of Harrisville, in Lewis County, will explore whether to dissolve and consolidate with the Town of Diana with an award of $15,000. This Dissolution Study will answer questions that the Village of Harrisville and Town of Diana residents have about the dissolution process, and impacts of village dissolution. The results of the study will be used to determine possible financial savings; management improvements; service delivery changes resulting from a local government reorganization; and alternatives to dissolution.

The residents of the Village of Morristown, in St. Lawrence County, expressed interest in possible dissolution, especially given the recent dissolution of two neighboring Villages, Edwards and Hermon.  An award of $15,000 will allow for the exploration of Village dissolution and possible consolidation with the Town of Morristown.  A detailed Dissolution Study will be developed to answer questions both Town and Village residents have about the dissolution process, and impacts of dissolution.  This evaluation will look at: potential financial savings, management improvements, service delivery changes resulting from a local government re-organization, and alternatives to dissolution.

“The Village Board of Morristown was approached by several residents requesting the Village conduct a dissolution study,” said Village of Morristown Mayor Cheryl Shatraw. “The Village Board moved forward to seek funding to conduct a dissolution study; and selected the Development Authority of the North Country to complete the study.”

In Franklin County, the Town of Tupper Lake will receive two awards of $20,000 to help pay for separate studies for consolidation of sewer and water districts in the Town.  Both of the studies will review the impact of consolidation. The CREG funding will assist the Town to develop a consolidation report that includes a district user cost analysis, an assets and real property assessment, a district financial summary, an analysis of district fund balances and outstanding debts, and legal issues and impediments to consolidation. The resulting information will be used to determine potential financial savings, management improvements, and service delivery changes resulting from district consolidation.

“The Town of Tupper Lake is pleased to have been awarded these two grants to study consolidation of our 23 sewer and 27 water districts,” said Town of Tupper Lake Supervisor Patricia S. Littlefield. “This study will hopefully assist us with combining several or more districts which will relieve some dedicated time in tracking and accounting for the large number of districts we now have. We look forward to working with the Department of State on this project and on future endeavors to benefit local government and the taxpayer of Tupper Lake as a whole.

The Town of Waterford has been facing the challenges of maintaining an aging infrastructure and the growing complexities in the regulation of water systems, coupled with the current economic climate and growing pressure to reduce the cost of providing essential municipal services, and potable water to its residents.   The Town of Waterford, in Saratoga County, will receive $25,000 to undertake a feasibility study to review the potential issues and impacts associated with dissolving the Waterford Water Board and consolidating the duties and functions of providing all water services under the Town of Waterford.

“The Town of Waterford is facing aging infrastructure issues and complex water systems regulations,” said Town of Waterford Supervisor John Lawler. “We are pleased to receive this grant from the Department of State.  The fund will provide impetus for us to consolidate water services under the town.  The state’s technical assistance and foresight in funding projects like ours is helpful and we appreciate being selected for an award.”

The residents of the Village of Mastic Beach, in Suffolk County, petitioned for a referendum on the dissolution of the Village and it was approved on November 16.  The Village received $50,000 to help provide information to the electorate prior to the referendum, and to assist with the completion of a dissolution plan to dissolve the Village into the Town of Brookhaven.

“The dissolution process can be onerous and requires the robust engagement of our residents,” said Village of Mastic Beach Mayor Maura P. Spery. “The CREG grant helps us to reach out to this important constituency for their involvement in the planning process so that we are ensured the best of outcomes."

CREG is a component of the Local Government Efficiency Program managed by the New York Department of State’s Division of Local Government Services.  The program provides local governments with funding and technical support for the study, planning and implementation of municipal reorganizations.

Communities considering reorganization should contact the New York Department of State, Division of Local Government Services, at 518-473-3355 or visit the website here to determine eligibility for CREG funding. Deadlines for applications are 4:00PM on the first Wednesday of each month. Local governments can now submit CREG applications and receive award notification online via the new Gateway Grant Opportunity Portal here.