Plans to go through with a $20 million grant application were unanimously shot down by Elmira City Council.
This comes after Chemung County requested that the city join in on an “Intent to Propose” for the award which would go towards local government service consolidation.
Elmira City Council opted to not even apply for the application for fear that it would mean the city would have to dissolve.
“Potentially, if we were awarded, we would have to follow through with the guidelines that the state had issued,” Elmira City Manager Michael Collins said.
Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli said consolidation could have been the alternative option to dissolution of the city, which is something the county and city have already been doing.
“We all agreed to proceed, to go for the $20 million,” Santulli said. “It could be used in a lot of ways, to help pay for some of the expenses as we continue to bring our administrations together. I think we could have worked around all of this. I think we could have kept the city the city, but really brought our administrations together, our departments together, like we have so far. And, done some meaningful savings and cost reductions.”
To dissolve, that would mean getting rid of local government, which leaves unanswered questions.
“Where would we go? Would we go back to our original towns? Would we go to the Town of Elmira, as well as the Town of Southport? Who inherits our debt?” Collins said. “So, those are still questions that we don’t have answers too.”
Although the city voted against going forward, the idea to continue shared services between the county and city is still on the table.
“We have a lot of shared services with the county currently,” Collins said. “We also have a lot of shared services with our animal control department, with other villages and towns, with our codes departments. We are willing to discuss consolidation. We just chose not to look at dissolution of the city.”
Applications for the award must be submitted by Friday.