Norwood dissolution study shows savings for village residents, raises questions about creating new town
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 6:40 am

By JIMMY LAWTON

NORWOOD -- More questions than answers were raised about the possibility of creating a Town of Norwood, as consultants presented the final report on dissolving the village Tuesday.

About 20 people attended a presentation from consulting firm CGR, Rochester, which highlighted four options for the future of Norwood.

Two options were fairly straightforward. These included maintaining the village as is and maintaining the village and sharing services with the towns of Potsdam and Norwood.

These options had little or no direct impact on the tax rate, according to the study.

Dissolving the Village

A third option, dissolving the village, showed a significant savings for residents of Norwood, with an increased tax burden for Potsdam and Nofolk residents outside of the village.

CGR consultant Jill Symonds said Norwood residents would see their tax rates drop from $16.70 per $1,000 of assessed value to $8.50 per $1,000 of assessed values.

Potsdam residents outside of Norwood would see an increase of approximately 80 cents per $1,000 of assessed value from with the rate rising from $3.20 to $4 per $1,000.

A tax incentive for dissolving a village, offered by the state, would increase the savings by dropping the Norwood tax rate to $8.10 per $1,000. Potsdam residents outside the village would still see an increase of about 40 cents per $1,000 as their new rate would be $3.60.

Norwood homeowners with an assessed value of $75,000 would see a savings of $610, or $640 with state aid, in their tax bill.

Potsdam homeowners would see an increase of about $60, or $30 with the state incentive.

Only Norwood residents would have a vote in the dissolution scenario.

Creating a town

Things became less clear when Symonds presented the fourth option of creating a Town of Norwood.

Symonds said such a move would likely require referendums from Norwood, Potsdam and Norfolk residents as well as action from state legislators.

"This is really breaking new ground," she said, adding that historic precedents have not been firmly established.

One member of the audience asked what would happen if Norwood, Norfolk and the state approved creating a new town, but Potsdam did not.

"That's a good question," she said. "We don't know what would happen."

The proposal offered two scenarios.

Compared to dissolution both options resulted in a lesser savings to village residents and much higher costs for Potsdam residents outside of Norwood, but within the new town boundary.

One scenario included a expanding the boundary for the proposed town to include the area around Norwood Lake. It showed Norwood homeowners with property valued $75,000 saving about $420 per year as the tax rate dropped from $16.70 per $1,000 to $11 per $1,000.

The second option called for expanding the town boundary even further, to include the entire 13668 zip code. This plan showed a savings of $150 in tax in Norwood's tax bill as the tax rate dropped to $14.40 per thousand.

Under the smaller boundary proposal, Potsdam residents outside the village with $75,000 homes would see an increase of $440 from $240 to $680, as the tax rate jumps from $3.20 to $9.10 per $1,000.

The larger boundary showed an increase of $600 on the Potsdam tax bill from $240 to $840, with the tax rate increasing to $11.20 per $1,000.

Continuing study

Some members of the audience contended that such an increase would not be acceptable for Potsdam taxpayers outside of the village.

Mayor Jim McFaddin agreed, but he said these numbers did not reflect the true costs and were merely, a jumping off point.

He said the option of creating a town presented many new variables that would need to be studied in detail to see the true impact.

McFaddin said he would like to see this option studied further and plans to propose study to create a "management plan" which would attempt to show the true costs.

"It's not realistic with these numbers, that's why we need to study it further," he said. "I think the costs to Potsdam residents would be a lot less if we took a real look at it."

The Norwood Village Board of Trustees is expected to accept the study Dec. 17.

McFaddin said he plans to propose a more in depth study of the town option.

"If we dissolve the village, there is no chance of creating a town. If we are going to look at this option we need to do it now."