From The Mayor's Desk

A collection of writings about small town democracy
by Roy Reehil, Mayor of the Village of Cleveland, New York.

News item for immediate release from the village board concerning a petition to dissolve the incorporation of the village of Cleveland

On Monday, May 16, 1995 a petition to dissolve the incorporation of the village of Cleveland was submitted to the Cleveland village clerk, Catherine Morse. The petition was reviewed by Mayor Roy Reehil and Village Counsel Sigmond Mazur on Tuesday, May 17, to determine if it was legally acceptable. The initial determination is that the petition is properly crafted and does contain an adequate number of signatures of registered village voters. The total number of qualified voters that signed the petition was slightly over 135.

An accepted petition to dissolve the incorporation of a village in New York State forces the village to vote on a ballot referendum whether or not to end the village’s right to conduct business as a village. If the referendum is approved by the voters, then all property, equipment and remaining village holdings are turned over to the town, and all business of the village as an entity ceases. The date that the dissolution would take place would be December 31, in the year following the referendum. The original village incorporation was established in 1857.

Before a vote on dissolution can take place, a plan of dissolution must be created between the town and the village. Next, a hearing on the dissolution plan must be held after being posted for at least ten days in the official newspaper of the village (the Citizen’s Outlet). Thirty days after the hearing is held, the referendum can take place.

It is unclear at the time of this printing when the ballot referendum will take place, however, it is clear that there is not legally enough time to create the dissolution plan, hold a dissolution hearing with ten days notice, and provide the thirty days legally necessary between the hearing and the referendum to include it in the regular election coming up on June 20th 1995.

Village residents should watch the Citizen’s Outlet for more information on this important issue.

The Dissolution Petition

As I write this it’s late Wednesday night, but I felt it was important to let people know what’s happening. The petition to dissolve the village (that we’ve heard so much about lately) has been submitted to the village clerk. It was signed by enough voters in Cleveland to demand a vote on the issue at an upcoming regular election—but it may not be on the ballot this June 20th, when we vote to fill the position of mayor, and to fill three trustee positions.

I’m writing to tell you that whatever side of the coin you fall on—that this petition has been handled fairly, and promptly.

This is a serious issue, with long lasting implications for our residents. The plan of dissolution that we are now forced to create is an important endeavor that we must not approach lightly. Thus far, by determination of the Local Government Counsel for the Department of State in Albany, there is not enough time to create the dissolution plan, hold a dissolution hearing, and provide thirty days legal notice (between the hearing and the referendum) for it to be included it in the regular election.

If you signed the petition and are in favor of dissolution now, I can tell you that we intend to explore the dissolution process thoroughly. However, it should not be rushed. There should be time to create a plan between the village and the town that will dispel the rumors and replace them with facts. The truth about exaggerated tax savings or increases will be dispelled with realistic calculations that we can vote on. There will be time to proceed logically, rather than emotionally.

I am personally saddened that so many people in the village have so little faith in our village democracy. You see, this village, this smallest component of American democracy, can only work if we participate. People who think that our problems will be solved by pushing them off to the next highest level of government should ask themselves “will the townspeople care about Cleveland more than my own neighbors do?” When that doesn’t work, do we push it higher, give the town up for the county to run? Or, is the perceived failure of our village government, really just a failure of each of us to participate. Of not voting, of not coming to meetings, of not volunteering a few hours a year. What will change if we give up the right to own our own parks, property, and fire department? Is the possibility of saving a few dollars a year in taxes worth the ability to determine where we’re going as a village.

I think that there is no value that we can put on our right to self determination, and given the chance to continue as mayor I think that, with your help, and your positive energy, that WE can prove it!

Roy Reehil, Mayor of Cleveland

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Copyright Roy Reehil, 2004