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Depew voters head to polls to decide village's fate

courtesy villageofdepew.org

Voters in the Village of Depew will head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to dissolve the municipality and allow the Towns of Cheektowaga and Lancaster to assume control of services, including public safety.

Those who favor the dissolution of the Village of Depew argue that it will bring tax relief. The village is currently operating with a deficit exceeding $8 million and "yes" advocates believe the towns in which Depew is sandwiched may provide most cost-efficient services.

Irvine Reinig is among those in favor of ending the village as an entity. He tells WBFO growth in the village is stagnant and Depew officials have no long-term plan for growth. He believes taxpayers would be able to do away with that debt without increasing the tax burden by dissolving Depew.

"We have millions of dollars of resources in terms of our assets to pay off short-term and long-term liabilities and we still can manage the debt, in terms of going forward where the taxpayers would have to pay off the debt, so that even doing that we would still see significant tax savings," Reinig said.

Opponents of dissolution have argued that eliminating the village will, along with it, compromise the quality of services including public safety, which would be picked up by the towns but, as opponents suggest, would result in longer response times.

"The Cheektowaga Police Department have said that they're not willing to hire any officers. So absorbing that big chunk of Depew, which is two thirds of Depew, how would they be able to protect us?" said dissolution opponent Scott Wegst, who also raised concerns about the coverage of ambulance services from Lancaster that, as he indicated, would not reach into the Cheektowaga portion of Depew as it does now. 

If residents vote to dissolve the village, the municipality would have 180 days to put together a plan for dispersing its properties and its employees. No village within Erie County has ceased to exist since 1900. The polls open at noon and close at 9 p.m. 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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