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South Nyack Votes to Dissolve

South Nyack Village Hall with Cross hatch

South Nyack, Dec 18 —  Village residents voted 508 to 292 yesterday to dissolve their village government. Six out of ten (64%) voted Yes in the citizen’s  initiated referendum to disband the municipality.

The movement to dissolve South Nyack began when Nyack College was sold to a Ramapo-based Hasidic Yeshiva earlier this year. Residents were immediately concerned that the village didn’t have the resources or tax revenues to pay for any future legal action–fears sparked by the loss of government control nearby East Ramapo has experienced. The poor communication about the sale from South Nyack’s mayor and village board didn’t help matters. Nor did the fact that the sale of the property to a tax-exempt religious institution would squander an opportunity to give the village a necessary financial boost.

What Happens Next

Here are the next steps in the municipal dissolution process as stipulated by the NYS Division of Government Services.

  • The governing bodies of the local government entities to be reorganized must meet Within 30 days of certification of the results
  • The governing bodies must prepare a reorganization plan and approve it by resolution Within 180 days
  • The approved reorganization plan must be displayed, posted on websites and published at least once each week for four successive weeks no later than five business days after the plan is approved.
  • One or more public hearings on the proposed agreement or plan must be held. These hearings may be held jointly or separately and public notice must appear in a newspaper of general circulation within each entity, and on any entity’s website within 35 to 90 days after the plan is approved
  • After the final hearing, the governing body may amend the proposed agreement or plan. No later than five business days after the plan is amended, a summary and copy of the plan must be displayed within each entity and posted
  • Approval of the final agreement or plan within 60 days from the close of the last public hearing.

Should citizens decide they want to reverse course, the bar is much higher to stop this process. The petition to request a dissolution vote only requires signatures from 10% of registered voters; to stop the process, 25% of the voters must sign on. That’s a tall order given that just short of 65% of voters just said OK to pulling the plug on village government. Here are the steps required to stop what was started yesterday:

  • Petition: Within 45 days after the governing body approves the final plan, the voters may file a petition, with the clerk of the town where the entity is located or where the greater portion of its territory is located, requiring a referendum on the reorganization plan. If the entity is a village the original petition must be filed with the village clerk. This petition must contain the signatures of at least 25 percent of the voters in the entity, or 15,000 signatures, whichever is less.
  • Petition Approved: Within 10 days final determination regarding the sufficiency of the number of signatures on the petition is made by the clerk
  • The governing bodies must enact a resolution calling for referendum and set a date for the vote within 30 days of the clerk’s determining the validity of the petition
  • REFERENDUM (re-)VOTE within 60 to 90 days with a Summary of the plan is to be published at least once each week for four successive weeks prior to the referendum.

Why South Nyack Went South

Dissolving, in theory, would cede control of the sale proceedings to government, in Orangetown, that’s bigger and more well-equipped to handle it.

Not everyone is convinced though. South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian has dismissed the benefits of dissolution, and, in a message to residents, warned that the move has significant costs, such as “the loss of our self-governance, the loss of control over our land, the loss of our excellent services, the loss of our stellar staff, the loss of OUR ABILITY TO DETERMINE OUR OWN SOLUTIONS FOR LOCAL ISSUES.”

While dissolution is no doubt a monumental step for the village, most things are not projected to change for residents, at least according to the CGR consulting firm’s Dissolution Report. The move, as we’ve reported, will not have any impact on the village’s school and library district (the greatest share of taxes), fire protection, emergency medical services, postal delivery, water, sewer, or utilities.

Only village and town taxes will be effected. Which isn’t nothing. CGR projects that a house with an assessment of $200,000 and a market value of about $480,000, there will be approximately $1,440 of annual savings in property taxes. The tax decrease, though, will likely come with a tradeoff in village services.

(Read about the other important takeaways from the CGR Report here.)

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