Mayor says dissolving village government is not the answer
While some villages in New York State are contemplating dissolution, the mayor of the Village of Richfield Springs says it’s not likely to happen here in the near future.
Although some may question why a place like Richfield Springs needs its own village government, Mayor Ronald Frohne II defends it by stating it would be a mistake to turn over the village services to people living outside of Richfield Springs. In a recent interview he said he felt it is his duty and responsibility to maintain village, which celebrates its 150th anniversary next year, as it exists.
The current Richfield Springs village budget is $1,285,997. The village has been holding the line on expenses, Frohne said. The current tax rate is $10.8145 per $1,000, down slightly from last year. The total assessed valuation of the village is $50,096,956.
In other villages throughout New York State, some residents feel there are too many village and town board members, clerks, assistant clerks, assessors, highway and police departments, and that along with their benefit packages, they are becoming too costly to maintain.
However, Richfield Springs has not experienced the same problems that are prompting other villages to consider dissolving, Frohne said. The local budget is primarily supported through local taxes, sewer and water fees and holding the line on expenses, he said, adding there was no property tax increase this year—in fact, it went down some. He added Richfield Springs was fortunate to be able to fund its latest $5.4 million sewer project through federal stimulus funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Merging the village with the town of Richfield has been discussed in the past but no serious action has ever occurred beyond consolidating some services between the village, town and school district. Frohne said this has saved considerable expense.
Regarding dissolution, village board member James Kurkowski said, “I’m all in favor of it.” He said he believes village government is unnecessary and that there’s too much duplication. He also noted that the fire department would like to break away from the village and create its own district, governed by fire commissioners who would set fire tax rates.
Also, the village population is shrinking. In 2009 there were 1,255 residents—down 7.2 percent from 2000.
The Village of Richfield Springs government includes the mayor, four village board members, clerk, deputy clerk, assessor, justice and justice court clerk, highway superintendent along with three and a half positions; librarian, assistant librarian, water plant employee, and two sewer system employees.