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Greenwich voters decide fate of village

UPDATE: Residents voted 281-203 against the resolution to dissolve their village.

Village of Greenwich residents voted Tuesday on whether or not to dissolve their Village and merge with the Town of Greenwich and Town of Easton.

Suzanne Becker has lived in the Village of Greenwich for 16 years. She said Tuesday that she doesn't want the Village she has raised her children in to change. She doesn't want it dissolved.

"Maybe I would save money on my taxes but I would have to pay for all the services that I just lost," she said,

"The community is not going to disappear, just the taxes will," said Peter Gregg, who is the publisher of the Greenwich Journal and Salem Press.

Gregg said he started a petition a few months back to get dissolution on a ballot. He said a report, done by a consulting company the Village hired, showed that Village taxpayers would save money if the Village were to dissolve.

"Our taxes are just too high. We pay two taxes for the same services," he said.

It's a similar decision other local Villages have had to wrestle with. The Village of Salem is right now.

Michael Hattery is the Director of Local Government Studies for the Rockefeller Institute of Government. He said the flurry of dissolution discussion in the state is likely because of the economy, the fact that the state has made it easier for voters to get dissolution on a ballot and because there are state incentives.

He said that New York is unique in that towns can tax inside villages. And sometimes residents feel dissolving their village is the only relief. He said residents have to weigh what services they may lose. It's different case to case.

"It would be a pretty monumental task to move from two municipalities into one," said Sara Idleman, the Town of Greenwich Supervisor.

Idleman and the Village Mayor said it is unclear exactly what dissolution would look like in Greenwich.

Mayor David Doonan said that the report the Village paid for said the Village Police Department, curbside trash and grants the Village has secured would likely go away. But he said that report didn't look at everything.

"The numbers that are there are obviously going to change they may get better, they may get much worse," said Mayor Doonan.

Voters said it's a tough choice.

"I did vote yes. It was hard," said Connie Anderson, a Village resident. "I have to think of everybody in the community they just can't afford it any more."

"You have to look at what you are losing too," said Shirley Coon, a Village resident.

Mayor Doonan said that if residents vote to dissolve the Village, then a plan to do that would be put together over the next six months. He said voters would eventually have to vote on that plan as well. If they voted no then, the dissolution wouldn't happen. Polls were open Tuesday until 9 at night.
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