Would the people of the Richfield Springs be willing to do away with the village government?
That's the hope of Alex Shields, a former county representative who has collected 100 signatures on a petition calling for a village-wide vote on dissolving the local government. If such a move is approved, all current services provided by the village would instead be offered by the town, and village employees would become town employees, he said.
In an interview with The Daily Star, Shields estimated that dissolving the village government will save taxpayers "in excess of $200,000" annually.
He said he arrived at that conclusion after analyzing financial information from both the town and village governments.
Village Mayor Ronald Frohne said he was strenuously opposed to Shields' push to dissolve the village. He also rejected the claim that the proposal would save taxpayer dollars.
"He has no facts to support his claims," Frohne said. "This would take away representation at the local level. It just sounds hurtful. We just celebrated our 150th anniversary as a village a couple of years ago."
He said some residents who signed the petition have already contacted village hall, asking to have their names from the document and noting they only signed it to get Shields off their backs.
Shields said town residents living outside of what is now the village would not end up subsidizing the sewer and water services that would continue to be provided to the village residents because sewer and water districts would be created.
Discussing his own amalgam of tax bills, Shields said the tax he has to pay to the village this year will exceed his combined tax bills from the town, the county and the local school district.
"A lot of people here are having a problem paying their taxes," Shields said. Eliminating the village government, he contended, would bring about "much greater efficiency." He noted the town has two town justices, one of whom also services as a justice in the village court. That position, he said, would be eliminated if there was consolidation.