While out in our community recently, I was approached by several individuals specifically regarding the topic of dissolving the government in our community based on a recent decision of the village of Forestville board to form a Dissolution Study Committee.
There are a lot of questions regarding the logistics of such an undertaking. Both asking and answering those questions and many others are a valid and necessary part of the process which would be looked into by the Dissolution Study Committee should the initiative proceed that far. Based on my conversations today, I thought it may be helpful for me to make public my approach and intent relative to the dissolution study initiative.
Although I did not initiate the process to consider the pros and cons of dissolving the municipal government in our community, I definitely understand a number of the reasons that Trustee Ron Lineman expressed to me as to why he thinks that now is the time to look into the feasibility and desirability of dissolving the municipal government in Forestville. Having been given the honor of being elected to serve our community as trustee for a year and then as mayor for the past four months, my understanding and appreciation of the complexities of governing a small municipality have increased greatly.
With that understanding has come a growing realization of the difficulty of adequately and appropriately addressing all the regulatory requirements, logistical needs and citizen expectations and desires in our community in a way that does not unduly burden our community.
At this point, I have a great many questions and concerns relative to achieving and maintaining our village government cost-effectively. I believe that I would be doing the taxpayers and citizens of our community a grave disservice and be failing to keep my campaign promises and fulfill my oath of office if I did not support at least a preliminary investigation of the pros and cons of dissolving the village government.
In an accord with my commitment to transparency, I have already approached the following individuals regarding serving on the Dissolution Study Committee and they have each graciously agreed to give their time to the effort: Chautauqua County Legislator Rod Rodgers, Town of Hanover Councilmen Kenneth Cross and Kevin O'Connell, Forestville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kyle Barthel, Village Trustee Lineman and myself.
Additionally, I have also asked village resident and town of Hanover Clerk Janine Salzman for input into this fact-finding mission, given her unique perspective from her lifetime as a member of the Forestville community and her decades of public service for the town of Hanover. She has kindly agreed to be a resource in the process.
As I considered which village citizens I should ask to serve on the Dissolution Study Committee to provide both breadth and depth of the issues that the village is facing and will face going forward, a number of names came to mind for various reasons. At this point, my intention is to ask two people to serve on the Dissolution Study Committee and to ask three others to serve as alternates should someone on the committee be unable to continue in the process. After much consideration as to their knowledge and experience in village matters, I have decided to ask and encourage former Mayor, Trustee and Town Councilman Chum Bowker and former constable and County Legislator Joe Bolivard to serve.
While I understand that they and many others may have concerns relative to traditions in our community, I believe that they can each offer insight on how to best address the many issues facing our community whether it be through dissolving the municipal government, increasing shared services or other creative ideas that would help to cost-effectively sustain our community. As to the alternates, I have some ideas but am very interested in hearing from anyone else willing to serve.
The Dissolution Study Committee will have its first meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Municipal Building. The meeting will be open for public viewing.
As the initial meetings are for the purpose of fact finding, there will not be a time for public comment. However, community members are welcome and encouraged to attend and to contribute questions and comments via writing for consideration by the study committee.
In many ways, I believe the governance of our community actually interferes in our being the community I know that we are and that Forestville is capable of becoming. I look to the countless hours given to our community by members of our Volunteer Fire Department, through the American Legion, food pantry, our clubs and our churches. I look at our Memorial Day Parade, our Fall Festival, our schools, I see a community, our community - Forestville.
I am proud to be a member of that community and to serve its members and vow to the best of my ability to take positive, sustainable steps to ensure that the Forestville community continues for countless years into the future.
Linda F. Aures is Forestville mayor.