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Voters deciding village's fate

Lyons, N.Y. - It's the second and final vote that will decide whether or not a village government that's been around since 1831 will survive.

"When I was elected I knew this could go either way," said Village of Lyons Mayor Terry VanStean (R), first elected in 2013. "This is going to determine the future of our village and community."

VanStean is talking about the ballot effort to dissolve the Village of Lyons, mainly fueled by a desire by some in the village to lower tax rates.

The village voted in favor of dissolving in 2012 by 34 votes, but New York State law requires a second vote if opposition to the initial vote remains.

Mayor VanStean said he falls into the opposition camp.

"I think it's going to be more of a problem than a positive thing," he said, referring to the issue of taxes. "What it amounts to is a tax shift."

According to a 2013 Village of Lyons report, taxes for those who live in the would-be former village would drop by about 38% if the village dissolves, but the report also indicates tax-rates would increase for those already living outside the village, in the town of Lyons.

Supporters of the dissolution vote look at things differently.

"Those living on the outside will still get the amenities the village is supporting," said Ronald DeCracker, referring to water and sewer services. "They should pay their fair share too."

Mayor VanStean said water and sewer services will continue if the village is dissolved, but added there's no guarantee services like police, fire and lighting will be provided.

"All of those things will be decided by a future vote," he said.

Many who support the dissolution push say they're confident a solution will be worked out for other services, and say dissolving the village is necessary to move forward.

"It's primarily about the money," said Henry Borys, returning to the issue of taxes. "I want to see an improvement."

Some, like Victor Harris, aren't quite sold on the issue of taxes, and aren't convinced dissolving the village will improve things.

"I've listened to some of the proponents [of dissolving the village]," he said. "They didn't have a convincing argument and I think the NOs are rallying."

If voters decide to dissolve the village, the actual changes won't take effect until January 2016, when the town of Lyons will begin to take over services.

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Washington Times