On Wednesday night, the East Syracuse Village Board unanimously voted to put the village's police department consolidation up to a referendum vote.
With a tax rate of 16.41-percent, the Village of East Syracuse currently has the highest tax rate of any village in Onondaga county. As costs continue to rise and the village's taxable assessments fall, officials warn that the property tax rate could climb to 18.48-percent, forcing many residents out of the village.
"We just boarded up another house in the village," said East Syracuse Mayor Robert Tackman. "As we board up houses, they come off the tax rolls because we can't collect on those properties. Values are dropping. That's what we're here for as a village: to increase the value of your property and provide service. When we can't do both we have to look at service."
And it isn't just village residents that are being forced out because of overwhelming tax rates. Businesses are leaving the village as well, and attracting new business has become nearly impossible.
"About six months ago i was trying to recruit a new business to come into our village. When he asked me about our tax rate I told him, '16.41.' It was pretty embarrassing," said Tackman.
The Board estimates that a merger would lower the tax rate to 12.98-percent. Skeptics point out that Village residents could end up paying higher taxes to the Town of DeWitt, thereby nullifying savings to home owners.
The board first voted 3-2 to abolish the department before voting unanimously to hold a referendum vote.
Voters previously voted down a referendum to abolish the department in October 2012.
The special election will be held on April 16 from 12-9 p.m. in the East Syracuse Village Municiple Building.