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Chaumont dissolution committee to hold its last public forum June 20

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CHAUMONT — The Chaumont Dissolution Study Committee will hold its last public forum at 7 p.m. June 20 at the Chaumont Fire Hall, Route 12E, before submitting its final report to the village board.

This forum is not a public hearing. The village board will have to hold a formal hearing in August if it decides to endorse the dissolution plan — thus bringing the issue to a public vote — in July.

Village and town of Lyme officials have said they were generally happy with the proposed plan as it stands.

However, officials — including Chaumont Mayor Valerie E. Rust and Lyme town Supervisor Scott G. Aubertine — also point out there are no guarantees that future town boards will follow through with the plan.

Center for Governmental Research Inc., the village’s dissolution consultant, projects that with state incentives for consolidated municipalities, Chaumont taxpayers would have seen a 49 percent drop in their village property tax bills if Chaumont had dissolved this fiscal year.

Assuming that the town of Lyme receives $30,757 annually through the state’s Citizen Empowerment Tax Credit program, the Rochester-based firm said the community would net a savings of $27,940 annually upon consolidation.

Without this tax credit, however, Chaumont’s projected tax rate decrease would be about 46 percent instead, from $10.32 per $1,000 of assessed value to $5.56, according to CGR.

And although they don’t have a say in the matter, town taxpayers outside of Chaumont would see a projected 8 percent increase in their taxes with state incentives or a 20 percent jump in their tax rate — from $2.34 to $2.81 per $1,000 — without.

In its draft report, however, CGR said it is reasonable to project the state’s tax credit program, an annual appropriation in the state budget, will continue to be funded “as it is a key initiative of the state at the time.”

Unless trustees reject the plan, the issue will be brought to a public referendum in November in which only village residents will get a vote.

Chaumont has an estimated population of 625 residents — which accounts for roughly 29 percent of the overall town of Lyme population — and about 300 registered voters.

If approved by village voters, the state-mandated dissolution process will take a year or so to complete, and Chaumont as an incorporated village would be no more as of Dec. 31, 2013. It would become a hamlet, like Three Mile Bay.

The village was named in 1833 after its founder, James D. LeRay de Chaumont, and was incorporated as a village in 1874.

For more information, visit www.cgr.org/chaumont.

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