No opposition voiced at Salem-Silver Lake joint public hearing on merger

salem-silver-lake-merger-public-hearing-meetingNo speaker at Wednesday night’s joint public hearing on a plan to merge Salem and Silver Lake into one municipality voiced opposition  to the plan.

The hearing was held, as required by state statute, to gather public opinion on the plan.

About 75 audience members were in attendance along with the Salem Town Board, the Silver Lake Village Board and some Salem department heads. Only 12 people testified, with voice supporting the plan, six asking questions but not expressing and opinion and one making a comment that the matter ought to be subject to a referendum, but did not say whether they supported the plan or opposed it.

Three of the audience members supporting the plan were from Silver Lake. The meeting was held at Salem Town Hall, but was open to anyone to attend.

All board members from both municipalities were in attendance (except Silver Lake Trustee Dough Randolph). They also all expressed support for the plan in comments after the public had a chance to speak.

Salem town Chairman Diann Tesar started out the meeting with some information about the plan, pointing out that the advantages to Salem included border stability and a lower cost to incorporate as a village than other methods.

Silver Lake village President Bruce Nopenz also addressed the start of the hearing and actually addressed a few Silver Lake-centric issues that had not been addressed at the previous Salem public informational meetings.

A key benefit to the residents of Silver lake will be gaining professional management of the day to day functions of the village after the merger, Nopenz said. Not having an administrator ” makes it very hard to take care of what comes up day to day,” he said.

Salem also has a bond rating, meaning when it has to borrow money it can do so more advantageously, Nopenz said.

Nopenz also said current plans call for:

  • Silver Lake Village Hall to serve as a satellite office for the new combined village, with at least some regular hours.
  • Street lights will remain in the village.
  • Street names won’t change, but emergency address name signs may be added.

And once again the issue of the name of the new village came up. The draft agreement calls for the new village to be named Salem. But the issue does not seem to be settled.

“There’s going to be a little negotiation there,” Tesar said.

Here’s some video of the members of the public who expressed opinions on the merger plan:

Here’s video of the public officials’ comments about the merger plan:

Here is a link to Salem’s page of information about the plan.


One Comment

  1. Joe Citizen says:

    It’s interesting to see that the very things Salem wants from this merger such as protection of its borders, home rule benefits, tax jurisdiction control and annexation protections through “incorporation”, it is taking away from the Village of Silver Lake. Many, if not most towns want to be autonomous and many wish they were villages. Through this merger Salem achieves both objectives. Ultimately, after this merger Silver Lake will likely be gone. A village that failed. And what will Silver Lake residents get in return for giving away their village, their name, their land? Promises. Just promises. Promises of better times ahead. Promises the merger is the right thing to do. Promises of tax savings via a lower mil rate. Promises of good times ahead. Guarantees of nothing. And there’s no chance of turning back once the dissolution takes place. I’m in favor of the sharing of some expenses between Salem and Silver Lake like fire, rescue and other municipal services, but not at the expense of the dissolution of the village. The trend is towards becoming a village not losing one’s status as one. I’m a firm believer in controlling one’s own destiny. If Silver Lake residents feel that a government on the other side of the lake will better look out for their interests then they look out for them then they are sadly mistaken. It didn’t work out too well for our country’s early colonists when those on the other side of the pond controlled their destiny and called the shots. I realize right now things are not great in Silver Lake, but the idea that Salem is some white knight and merging with Salem will somehow save Silver Lake is not the answer. Silver Lake should take a page out of Salem’s playbook. Silver Lake should look at annexing some of the properties at its borders to increase its tax base, increase its area for future growth and lower its mil rate. Silver Lake should try to annex the properties immediately west of Hwy. B and south of Hwy. 50. This will give Silver Lake a presence along Hwy. 50, which is important for business development and expansion. Additionally, Silver Lake should look at annexation of the properties along Hwy. F (Silver Lake Road) and Country B south towards Highway C. I know there’s an argument here that because of the village’s high mil rate these areas will never agree to annexation, but I don’t know if that’s true. I think the village owes it to itself to at least look into this further and possibly approach the property owners in these areas.
    I believe there are other solutions too to Silver Lake’s woes and those don’t involve the dissolution of the village.

    The Village of Silver Lake, which was incorporated in 1926, is now 90 years old. It should do whatever it can to preserve itself. At the very least, if Salem wishes to be part of Silver Lake, than the new entity should be called Silver Lake and it should incorporate Salem’s territory. In this scenario, the expansion of the Village should be the primary discussion and not its dissolution.

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