About the Website
Village Dissolution Vote Background
On March 29, 2010, the Brockport Village Clerk was presented with a petition to initiate a dissolution process for the Village, under the requirements set forth in the "New NY Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act," which became state law on March 21, 2010. Based upon the Clerk's determination that the number of valid signatures was sufficient to require putting the dissolution referendum to a vote, the Village Board set the vote for June 15, 2010.
Under the old law governing village dissolutions, a formal dissolution plan had to be prepared by a committee appointed by elected leaders. The plan described in detail how each of the services provided by the village would be provided by the town if the village dissolved; what would happen to village employees, assets, laws and codes, etc.; and the financial and tax impact of the changes.
Under the new law now in effect, the vote to dissolve a village, when initiated by voter petition, is held before a dissolution plan is prepared. The "Citizen's Guide to Petitioning for Local Government Consolidation or Dissolution," published by the NY Department of State, describes the new process this way:
"In many ways, a vote to consolidate or dissolve is a leap in the dark. Since the vote comes before the plan when using the petition process, and possibly before any study of the potential impacts of consolidation or dissolution, people who vote in favor of the change are trusting that the governing board will develop a sensible and suitable plan for dissolution or consolidation. However, sometimes the financial numbers don't work out in the way that was expected, the proposed cuts in services would go beyond what was anticipated, or people simply change their minds. The law gives the electorate the opportunity, once the final plan is done, to reconsider their support for the consolidation or dissolution as expressed in the plan." (For details, see About the Vote.)
Why This Website?
The Center for Governmental Research (CGR) is an independent, not-for-profit research and consulting organization that was founded by George Eastman in 1915 to serve the public interest — primarily by assisting local governments and nonprofits that want to provide more efficient and effective services. Over the past 4 years, CGR has been engaged as study consultant for dissolution committees charged with developing dissolution plans for 10 different villages across the state, ranging in size from 400 to 16,000 residents. The process to develop a plan and hold public hearings to discuss the service, financial and tax impacts of dissolution usually has taken from 9 months to a year or more.
However, with voter-initiated dissolutions, the new law only allows 60 to 90 days from the day the referendum date is set for village voters to become educated about the pro's and con's of dissolving their village. In addition, voters do not have the benefit of a plan or a public hearing process upon which to rely to help them decide whether to vote for or against dissolution.
In the absence of any requirement to develop a plan or time to review and discuss it, the best voters can do is to learn facts about the village, review documents prepared to help citizens understand the issues, review arguments made by proponents and opponents of village dissolution, and learn from other villages how dissolution committees wrestled with service delivery, personnel, financial and tax impact questions.
To that end, CGR, with additional financial support from the Bea Bibby Endowment Fund of the League of Women Voters of the Metropolitan Rochester Area, offered to assist the Village of Brockport by developing and providing this website. It exists for one purpose — to be an educational resource for Brockport voters as they come to their own conclusions about whether to vote for or against dissolving the Village.
CGR's Role for This Website
CGR's role will be to remain neutral. We are not for or against dissolving the Village of Brockport. We do not have data and information that will allow us to make projections or assumptions about future service, personnel, financial or tax implications of dissolution. We are not a legal services firm and do not render legal opinions. Answers for all of these would have to be the responsibility of the committee charged by the Village Board with developing a dissolution plan, should the June 15 referendum pass.
What we do provide on this website is information CGR has learned during the course of preparing dissolution plans for numerous villages and also through our other extensive work in the field of local government management. Where possible, we provide direct links to resources that may prove helpful. CGR will post information on this website that is provided to us by proponents, opponents or neutral parties to dissolution as part of our Resources page, but we reserve the right to redact references that are personal in nature, offensive or based on specious or factually incorrect arguments. However, if the information that we are requested to post is already available online at another site we may choose simply to provide the link to the site. In these cases, CGR will not assume responsibility for reviewing, clarifying or verifying the information provided on these websites.
We will also answer, to the best of our ability within the limited timeframe available, questions posed about the potential dissolution, in one or more of several ways. We may refer to an answer already developed by a dissolution study in one or more villages, or to studies or papers prepared by other sources (e.g., the NY Department of State, the NY Office of State Comptroller), or information available in other publicly available documents.
It is very likely that the types of questions raised by citizens of Brockport will be the same as, or similar to, questions raised by citizens in some of the other village dissolution studies we have conducted. However, since each village is unique, it is possible that questions may arise in Brockport that have not been addressed in other communities. CGR will do our best to identify answers to these questions where possible, subject to the time and project limitations noted.
It is our sincere hope that this website will help shine light on issues Brockport voters are discussing about dissolution. Citizens may be frustrated that, for many questions, there are no "black and white" answers. A dissolution plan, if developed, would provide answers to many questions that cannot be answered prior to June 15.
The best we can do at this time is to serve the public interest by providing factual information to inform voters so that they can reach their own conclusions about whether or not to dissolve the Village of Brockport.