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Overwhelming defeat of Dissolution vote means the Village of Wolcott lives on

by WayneTimes.com
March 16, 2024

Following months of signs, Facebook posts, meetings and division, the voters of the Village of Wolcott had their say.

In a vote on Tuesday evening, March 12th, where over 60% of the qualified residents voted, a petition for Dissolution of the Village went down with a vote of 317  NO to 67 YES.

The Village clerk certified a petition back 3-1/2 months ago, calling for a referendum (vote) on the proposed dissolution of the Village. About 86 residents signed the petition that set in motion a long, long discussion and heated exchanges. The petition initiated and promoted by a group called “The Committee to Dissolve the Village of Wolcott” listed  Susan Russo as the contact person. The reason for the dissolution was listed simply as “lack of positive change in the village”, “lack of initiative in drawing people into the village, and reluctance to initiate improvements to the infrastructure.”

With the defeat of the call for Dissolution, another petition cannot be  brought for 4 years.

Two towns, attached to this Village - the Towns of Butler and Wolcottt would have had to absorb village services and tax districts and the governing and taxing would have been theirs. Fourteen employees of the Village, including two police officers, would have lost their jobs. 

While the Dissolution proponents believed that there would be a huge cost savings by eliminating the Village, a study showed this not to be quite accurate. 

Consultants from the LaBerge Group were hired by the Village through a State grant to look into the outcome of a dissolution. The grant was for $30,000, and the Village of Wolcott had to upfront $5,000 to begin the process. 

The Village Board of Trustees chose to undertake the Interim Dissolution Study prior to the referendum to assist the citizens of the Village of Wolcott in making an informed decision when voting on the referendum.

The study showed that, although there could be just over a $300 in tax savings per year, the list of services lost would be problematic. Besides the loss of Village employees, residents would lose their own local water and sewer services, maintenance, lighting, highway, parks, and fire services. There was no estimate as to what the Towns of Wolcott and Butler would have charged for these services, and whether or not they would have provided them.  

On Wednesday, Wolcott Mayor Chris Henning gave an air of relief.  

“I would like to personally thank everyone for all the support during this dissolution process. It really shows just how much everyone cares for the village and stood up, made it known that it is to remain a village. I am overwhelmingly pleased with the turnout of our Village residents. I have, since the onset, never been in favor of dissolution, nor did I expect it would happen. I did my best to have the most accurate information and facts to help voters determine the outcome. Securing a New York State grant to bring in LaBerge Group, for a study and facts, was one way to let residents know what would happen if the dissolution passed, or did not.”

He continued: “I have spent all morning answering calls from residents, local businesses, historians, press, and our State Senator Pam Helming - all  with congratulations for our Village moving forward, ” said  Henning.

From the Facebook Page “Committee to Save the Village of Sodus, Eva Banas-Duncan made this statement: “I think the community made it clear which way they wanted to go and we thank everyone that helped get the word out.” She also reminded residents to remember to vote on Tuesday (March 19) in the Trustee Election.

Banas-Duncan wanted the community also to be aware that the name of their Facebook page will be changed to: “We are the Village of Wolcott Community”. 

No comment was received from Susan Russo or the Dissolution Committee following the vote, but their original message was: “The petition was started because a great many of the villagers were unhappy with the lack of positive change in the village. Those supporting looking into dissolving the village do not hate the village. They love the village and would like to see it grow and flourish. “

At a regular Village Board meeting held on Wednesday, March 13, Mayor Henning  expressed his feelings to the public. “The compassion for the village and the resilience of everyone through this whole process has been like no other.”      

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