RICHFIELD SPRINGS — Faced with a petition that gives voters the chance to decide whether they want to dissolve their local government, village officials here are aggressively trying to counter the notion that they are duplicating public services provided by the town of Richfield.
Both sides in the debate over whether to dissolve the village of Richfield Springs have seven more weeks to make their case to registered voters. The special election on the dissolution question, made necessary by a petition drive pushed by former county lawmaker Alex Shields, will be held on Oct. 15.
Shields, in seeking signatures on the petition, told voters that taxpayers could save at least $200,000 a year if village government were mothballed and the town of Richfield had to take over the services now provided by the village.
Since then, Mayor Ronald Frohne, assisted by other village officials, have cast doubt on Shields contentions, arguing they amount to “gross misrepresentations of the real situation.”
In a posting on the village’s official web site, Frohne stated: “The village does a lot of work that the town does not handle. There is very little in the way of duplicate services, and where duplication has occurred, efforts to share services are already in place. The Village of Richfield Springs runs a tight ship. We do not carry unnecessary staff, and the staff we do have works hard to keep budgets in line, often finding ways to fix things in house rather than buying new or sending out for repairs.”
Responding to the contention that dissolution of the village will save taxpayers $200,000, Frohne noted that the entire village payroll, plus benefits, comes to only $85,910 a year. If the village employees were sent packing, he reasoned, the town would have to hire staffers to do the work being performed by those who would be let go.