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Altmar residents decide to dissolve village in close vote

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Altmar residents decide to dissolve village in close vote
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Voters of the Village of Altmar have spoken. Come June of 2013, the village will be dissolved, officially becoming part of the Town of Albion. But as our Candace Hopkins tells us, it was a close vote and village residents remain sharply divided.

ALTMAR, N.Y.-- Dozens of residents of the Village of Altmar cast their votes Tuesday, ultimately deciding by just a four vote margin to dissolve the village, making it part of the Town of Albion in 2013. It's a decision that many, including resident Kevin Haywood, say will be hard to face.

"We've lived here our whole lives you know, and all of a sudden now we're no longer Altmar, we have to be called Albion, or whatever they're going to decide to call us, and I think we're gonna kinda lose the history of what this town is, and what it is about," said Haywood.

When the final votes were tallied, 54 people voted in favor of dissolution, and only 50 to keep the village as is.

That means come June of 2013, the Town of Albion will assume all of the village's former responsibilities, minus brush and leaf pickup. It also means that the village's eight part time employees, including clerk Margaret Bailey, will be out of jobs.

"I would miss the job because I like doing this type of work, it's not a highly paid job, so the money's not an issue by any means, but I'd miss the work," said Bailey.

By dissolving the village, the Town of Albion will be eligible for increased state aid to offset property taxes. But many people worry services and departments will suffer, like the fire department. It is currently owned by the village and will be forced to become an independent department, driving up operating costs.

Donald Spearance Jr. has lived in Altmar all his life, and is also a volunteer firefighter.

"We'll have to have more fundraisers for ourselves, we do fundraisers now as it is, we'll just have to find more ways to raise money to keep the apparatus that we have up to date," said Spearance.

But some residents who support dissolution believe maintenance and upkeep in the village will actually improve under the town's watch, including Ronald Haney.

"I hope that it comes down to that everything gets done and gets done right and not looked around and looked past," said Haney.

In the end, residents say while the village will technically disappear, their community and its identity is here to stay.

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