More than 140 years ago, our residents voted to form the Village of South Nyack to gain direct control over municipal affairs including taxation, the regulation of land development and land use, the enactment of local laws, the provision of public services, the creation of parks, the scheduling of local elections, and much more.
This summer, the Village received a petition for dissolution. The petition calls for the elimination of all aspects of the Village, including all of its staff and departments, its provision of services, and its ability to self-govern. The petition obligated the Village to respond according to procedures and schedules laid out in state law, and to have a public vote on the question of dissolution.
The referendum vote will be held on December 17th, 2020. The Village cannot postpone the referendum to allow residents to gather more information nor may the Village change the highly-compressed time line associated with the dissolution process. Doing so would be illegal.
Misleading information about dissolution is being widely circulated by some residents and is causing confusion and division. It is imperative that residents be provided with factual and accurate information to make an informed decision before voting in the referendum. To that end, the Village Board of Trustees, which is compelled to act on behalf of ALL residents, hired an outside consultancy firm to compile and present impartial data on the potential impact of dissolution. As experts in their field, the consultants do not promote an opinion one way or another. Their report was released last week, followed by a meeting at which the consultants answered questions from members of the public. A follow-up dissolution workshop will be held on Thursday.
What happens if voters choose to dissolve the Village?
- Representation: After dissolution, the self-governing municipality of South Nyack will be eliminated and the former Village will instead become an unincorporated area within the Town of Orangetown. ALL LEGISLATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES would be taken over by the Orangetown Supervisor and Town Board, none of whom lives in South Nyack.
- Land use, planning and zoning laws: These laws allow South Nyack to regulate the development of land within its boundaries, including the ability to control the size and type of buildings, the purpose for which buildings and lots may be used, the location of high-density housing and green spaces, the amount of commercial activity and business, and so on. These local laws allow South Nyack to directly control the character and vision of our Village. It is critical to understand that, after dissolution, ALL CONTROL OF LAND USE, PLANNING AND ZONING would be handed over to Orangetown. The Town of Orangetown would have no obligation to honor any of our existing land use laws or zoning codes and it is impossible before the referendum to carefully analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Orangetown laws. No member of the Orangetown Planning Board or Zoning Board lives in South Nyack.
- Nyack College: By law, a municipality – whether the Village of South Nyack or the Town of Orangetown – is not allowed to interfere with the sale of private property. Dissolution would have no effect on the sale of Nyack College. With the status of the Nyack College property being a major issue for the Village, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO THROW AWAY CONTROL OF LAND USE MATTERS.
- Village staff and services: The highly-responsive staff and the exceptional services provided by the Village would also disappear. Many South Nyack residents have interacted with Jill, Sokuna and Scott from our Village Hall and Building Department; with Jim, Matt, and Nelson from DPW; and, with our community police officers and Chief Wilson. With dissolution, ALL VILLAGE STAFF AND SERVICES WOULD BE LOST. Orangetown would be under no obligation to hire any of our staff, and the quality of replacement services from Orangetown is unknown.
- Taxes: Currently, almost two-thirds of our property tax dollars are consumed by the Nyack School District and Library. After dissolution, that high taxation would remain exactly the same, saving residents nothing. It is, however, true that if the village dissolves, taxpayers would no longer pay village-related taxes. The owner of a median-assessed property would see a net reduction in tax-and-service-related costs of about 6.3%*.
The cost of dissolution
Voters must determine if an estimated 6.3% decrease in tax and service-related costs is WORTH THE REAL COST OF DISSOLUTION:
- 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.
The extraordinary action to dissolve the Village was initiated by a small group of residents. Their petition requires voters to hastily make a decision – the most monumental decision facing our Village in more than 140 years.
There is too much to lose through dissolution. We, the undersigned members of the current Board of Trustees and Trustee-elect do not consider dissolution to be in the best long-term interests of the Village and its residents.
We strongly recommend that you vote NO on December 17th.
Mayor Bonnie Christian
Deputy Mayor Alain Leinbach
Trustee Catherine McCue
Trustee Michael Lockett
Trustee Andrew Goodwillie
Trustee-elect Michael Lockett
* The median-assessed property value in South Nyack is $188,200. Using the consultant’s tax calculator webtool, the total annual property tax for a median-assessed parcel taxed at the Homestead rate would reduce from $15,715 to an estimated $14,360, a difference of $1,356. From that savings, residents would be required by Orangetown to pay about $360 for trash collection. Thus, the resultant net savings of dissolution is about $996, representing 6.3% of the current tax bill.