Opinion: Vote to dramatically improve Morristown, says local resident
Friday, June 8, 2018 - 7:54 am

To the Editor:

The voters of the Village of Morristown are rapidly approaching a unique opportunity to dramatically improve the future viability of our community.

Last year, the mayor and the village trustees of Morristown hired the Developmental Authority of the North Country (DANC) to conduct a professional and thorough study of the possibility of dissolving our village government. They also appointed a ten-member study committee to follow the progress of the DANC group and evaluate the final report.

In the April 4 open meeting, the final report and the impact of the dissolution were presented. The results could not have been more clear, especially the significant tax savings that would result from taking the expenditures of our village government and blending them with our town government.

As a retired CPA and certified financial planner, I did my own analysis of the report. Currently, the taxes to pay for the expenses of the village, including all the services the village provides the residents of the town, i.e. parks, boat dock, etc., are calculated by a formula multiplying the expenses times the value of your real property divided by the village real property tax base, approximately $27 million. This formula results in each village property being taxed at $15.67 per $1000. Using the same formula on the town with a $187 million base results in a $4.64 per $1000 tax on the same category of expenses. It should be noted that water, sewer and fire districts are managed separately, so tax differentials would not apply in these cases. The Study Committee and DANC found no significant changes in these separate taxing districts.

The disparity in taxes paid by a homeowner of $15.67 per $1, 000 in the village, and the much lower $4.64 per $1000 in the town is a direct result of the lack of tax base in the village. When the village government is eliminated and its tax burdens more fairly distributed over the much larger town tax base, the village government portion of the tax rate for residents of the village falls by approximately 60%. When presented with the DANC report and its obvious conclusions, the village trustees voted to accept the report as submitted. It is now up to the voters to implement the Dissolution Plan.

With some viewing the data with disbelief, inaccurate, alternative narratives are being developed. Since bad news tends to spread faster than good, there is some danger to the outcome of the vote by village residents. Hopefully, we will all be attentive and kind to those who oppose this move. Even though their village government funded and accepted the study they commissioned, they still don’t believe every taxpayer in our Village will receive a 60% tax decrease on the village government portion of the tax. I have studied the numbers, the logic of the study, and the results. DANC seems to have followed generally accepted methods for review and calculation and their results are credible. In other words, I believe that following the Dissolution Plan will result in a substantial reduction in the overall tax rate for village taxpayers and in a general improvement in the economics for the village as a whole.

Without discounting the anxiety associated with change - dedicated officials losing their positions - others needing to work in other settings with different bosses or co-workers, we need to move forward with this change. In the long run, this dissolution of the village level of government will benefit those officials and disrupted village employees. Morristown as a community will continue with its bonds and loyalties established over many years.

Unfortunately, in 2008, a study with similar results pointing to the wisdom of going with one government structure instead of two (village and town), was sadly stalled, and never was taken up again. Over that last 10 years, the imbalance of the tax burden has fallen heavily on the village residents, with the direct result that the town with much lower taxes is growing, while the village is not. We cannot make up those lost savings from the last 10 years, but we now have the opportunity to change the equation, reducing the village tax and, thus, dramatically change the direction of Morristown's future.

Please vote to equalize the tax burden between the village and the town by voting for the dissolution of the Village of Morristown on June 26, 2018. Vote for a positive future for Morristown.

William Gerard