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October 12, 2013

Village's fate at stake in Tues. vote

Richfield Springs Village Mayor Ronald Frohne II and former county Rep. Alex Shields have both been spending a lot of time talking to local residents about Tuesday's referendum, which proposes that the village be dissolved.

Both men see the proposal as a critically important issue for the village's more than 1,200 residents. They just happen to be on opposite sides of the argument.

If the referendum is approved,the village government would be wiped out and the town of Richfield would take over the services now provided by the village: the court, animal control, building codes inspections, record-keeping, road maintenance and governance.

In a "Dear Neighbor" letter issued on Oct. 9, Shields urged his fellow village residents to join him in backing the referendum, which was made possible after he succeeded in getting 100 of them to sign a petition calling for the vote.

"Whatever the outcome, Richfield Springs will, as before it was made a village, always will be called Richfield Springs, as will be the library, as will be the school and most of all, we will still be neighbors in this special place we call home, Richfield Springs," Shields wrote.

In an interview, Shields said the dissolution of the village would produce a savings of $227,004 for local taxpayers, much of it through the elimination of 13 positions,. If the vote passes, it would not impact the jobs of water department or sewer department workers, as they are funding through taxing districts that are separate from the village, he said.

Frohne said the village is run very efficiently and, were the referendum to be approved, the town would have to hire more workers, nullifying the savings projected by Shields.

"Our workers are not getting rich off us," the mayor said. "We have just the bare minimum of what we think we need."

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