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October 17, 2013

Richfield Springs referendum solidly defeated

Residents vote to keep village by 5-to-1-plus margin

A referendum calling for the dissolution of Richfield Springs was solidly defeated Tuesday by village voters who turned out at the polls in unusually heavy numbers for an election with nothing else on the ballot.

The proposal was backed by just 48 voters and opposed by 288.

With a total population of 1,236 residents, the village has just 636 registered voters, meaning that turnout cracked the 50 percent mark, a much higher percentage than usually seen throughout the nation for presidential elections.

The referendum was necessitated by a petition circulated by former Otsego County Rep. Alex Shields.

“The majority rules, and I respect that,” Shields said in an interview Tuesday night. “I am happy that people at least got out and expressed themselves. I’m very happy that people want to use this thing we preciously call the vote.”

Shields had argued that more than $230,000 in taxpayer funds could be saved if the village government was eliminated and the town of Richfield took over the services now provided by the village.

Village Mayor Ronald Frohne argued that village government is already lean, and there would be no significant savings if the village were to be dissolved.

“There’s really not anything to consolidate,” said Frohne.

He said the results show village residents approve of how the village government has managed taxpayer dollars in a cost-effective way.

“I’m very pleased with how the election went,” Frohne said. “The fact that so many people came out is a very good thing.”

Shields said he doubted he would make another attempt to dissolve the village.

“I’m 77 years old, and it’s a two-year wait before another referendum (on the same question) could be put before voters, and I have given it my best shot,” Shields said.

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