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Edwards village dissolves

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EDWARDS — The village will cease to exist Jan. 1 but no one may register the change.

“After the first, I don’t think anyone will know the difference,” former Mayor Jan C. Lennox said. “A lot of them don’t know it now.”

Village residents decided in March 2011 that they wanted to eliminate the village as a layer of government. The subsequent period has been a transition time for the transfer of deeds and accounts, new contracts and the formation of water, sewer and lighting districts.

“There’s a lot of departments we don’t have,” said Town Supervisor Sharee D. Lanphear, who is also village clerk. “It’s made it much easier.”

Zoning designations for the former village will be tackled after the dissolution.

The state has referred any questions Mrs. Lanphear has had to the handful of other municipalities that have already eliminated their villages.

“They all tell me you are in uncharted water,” she said.

Eliminating the village seemed to make sense for the community. Mrs. Lanphear has intimate knowledge of both governments. The town provided some village services, such as dog control and road work, anyway, and there were few employees.

“The shared services were already in place,” Mayor Arthur W. Whitmarsh said.

The town and village also have the same name, which makes any loss of identity less obvious.

The village was less of a hub than it had been in the past, when the zinc and talc mines were open, and the paper mill in Newton Falls was operating.

Nothing momentous will happen Jan. 1.

“To my knowledge, it’s just done,” Mrs. Lanphear said.

Town tax rates will drop 21 percent because of nearly $85,000 Edwards is to receive annually starting in 2013 under state Aid and Incentive to Municipalities. The aid is supposed to keep coming as an encouragement for dissolution,

Mr. Whitmarsh will join the Town Council Jan. 1. He has been a member of the village board for more than 30 years but has not served previously on the town board.

“I’m changing the position where I sit,” he said.

Mr. Whitmarsh was not initially sure dissolution was in Edwards’s best interest.

“I had to be convinced. We had a very thorough study done. There was very little downside,” he said. “All I can say is the voters decided and I think it’ll be to the benefit of the taxpayers. I think it’s the trend of the future.”

Government should run more efficiently, Mr. Lennox said.

“These small towns, you really got to look at it. I think getting rid of the village tax is going to help in the long run,” he said. “I think we definitely made the right choice. I can’t second-guess anything.”

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