At the start of the Committee on the Future of Marcellus' public forum Tuesday night, Chairman Patrick Cox wanted to make very clear the purpose of the group and the extent to which it could influence governmental change.
"We have no authority," Cox said. For emphasis, the phrase was written boldly on the easel and remained on display for a portion of the meeting.
The committee, appointed in July by the village board, was charged with addressing the general question of whether the village government should continue to exist in its current capacity.
Cox said the committee had narrowed its focus to looking at the governmental structure of the community and determining what the structure should be going forward.
But the public forum was meant to be less about the conclusions the committee had drawn so far and more an opportunity for the public to offer their input and air concerns. More than 30 residents showed up to do just that, and the majority voiced a shared opposition to the idea of dissolving the village -- in spite of Cox's repeated assurances that the committee had not been formed to dissolve the village government.
Rather than look specifically at how the two separate governments could be merged, the committee aimed to nail down what changes, if any, could be made to increase efficiency and keep the village of Marcellus out of the crisis situation that other small municipalities had faced around the country.
Committee member Kathy Carroll pointed out that, although rumors of economic recovery were nice to hear, the financial situation of both the town and village was not looking much improved for 2010 or the following year, and that being prepared now for tough economic times ahead would only help residents.
On Dec. 8, the committee members will present the "discoveries" they have made about village government to the village board. Committee members include John Bednarski, Carroll, Cox, John Curtin, Chuck Paul, Mike Plumpton and Brud Wilson.