Nov 11, 2011 Amanda Seef Uncategorized
For months, a schism has been present in the village of Camillus. On one side, a group with hopes to see the town absorb the village of 1,200 for tax savings. On the other, passionate residents who had hopes of saving their village, their community.
By the Numbers:
Referendum to dissolve the village
YES: 158, 40.83%
NO: 229, 59.17%
Karen Kiggins: 153, 42.86%
Patricia Butler: 198, 55.46%
Village Trustee (2-year term)
Ann Eckert, 212, 36.8%
Timothy Stapleton, 202, 35%
Robert Schultz, 156, 27%
Village Trustee (to fill vacancy, 1-year term)
No victor called
Anthony Komuda, 136, 40%*
Bill Cody, 73, 21.5%
Danny Crook, 130, 38.4%*
*As six votes separate Komuda and Crook, absentee ballots will be counted to determine this race.
“I just kept saying my prayers that what was in the best interest of the community would happen,” said mayor-elect Patricia Butler.
On Tuesday, the passion pulled through as 229 of the village’s residents voted to keep the village, and elect a mayor who doesn’t see dissolution for the village in the foreseeable future.
“I don’t even like the term dissolution,” Butler said. “I don’t believe in my heart that we are there yet.”
Slightly more than half of the village’s registered voters, 387 of 766, turned out to the polls. Residents said on Tuesday the lines at the village’s polling places were long.
“When everywhere else, voter turnout was in the low 20s, this was a high turnout,” said Edward Ryan, commissioner of the board of elections.
Of those, 357 voted for mayor: 198 for Butler, a former village trustee who was appointed to fill a vacant trustee position last month, and 153 for Karen Kiggins, a Republican.
“It was closer than I thought it would be,” Butler said. “I couldn’t call it. Ultimately, each voter in the privacy of their own voting booth made their own choice, and rightfully so.”
Butler, a retired nurse who served as village trustee for seven years, will take the reigns as mayor of the quaint village Jan. 1. Until then, interim mayor Bridget Yule will continue her time at the helm of the village, a spot left open by the abrupt resignation of Michael Montero.
After the West Genesee School District cut its third-grade strings program, Montero moved his family and his business, The String Corner, out-of-state. Montero commissioned the study for consolidation by County Comptroller Robert Antonacci.
“It made financial sense,” Montero said from his string shop, now Montero Violins, in Pennsylvania. “It may not have made emotional sense, but it made financial sense.”
Butler says as a trustee, she tried to be open-minded to the dissolution discussion.
“I wanted to hear what both sides had to offer,” she said. “I felt strongly as time went on that I wanted to save the village.”
The village has been saved, for now, but that does not make it immune to dissolution or consolidation. Voters can not bring the decision to referendum again for four years, though the village board can entertain the idea of another referendum.
“If the village board truly felt they were in a fiscal crisis, then they have the ability to move forward toward dissolution or consolidation, as to not put our community into a total state of despair,” Butler said.
That discussion, the mayor-elect said, is not to be had right now.
“I would like to be able to see the new board have the next year to really get working on things before even approaching a decision like [the dissolution conversation],” Butler said.
Had the dissolution passed in referendum, the village would have received a $1 million incentive through New York state. More than 70 percent of that money would have gone toward tax payer relief.
“The vote, in my opinion, was more emotionally driven than stepping out of the box and looking at it from a real perspective,” Montero said from his string shop in Pennsylvania. “It doesn’t make sense. Can you make it work? I guess you can make anything work, it just depends on how much people want to pay for it.”
As it stands, village residents pay $62 more per $100,000 assessed home value than town residents.
Butler’s goals as mayor, Jan. 1, 2012:
Be more transparent
Be more fiscally responsible
Have more communication with the rest of the village
Work with the board and employees to create a cohesive team with consideration for each other
“Most looked at the vote emotionally instead of from a practical standpoint of numbers,” Montero said. “If this was their own budget in their house, they would react very quickly in adjusting and cutting lifestyle. Otherwise you can’t function. Why should any government be any different?”
The village board adopted a $1.3 million budget at a board meeting prior to the dissolution. The tax rate is expected to remain flat, at $6.60 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable home value.
Butler said villager residents voiced their choice for a distinct reason: they love where they live.
“It’s a little of everything rolled into one village,” she said. “Camillus is a very pleasant, friendly, courteous place to live.”
Amanda Seef is an editor/reporter at Eagle Newspapers. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.