msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/17/2010 10:55:11 AM ET 2010-03-17T14:55:11

Voters in the upstate New York birthplace of the women's rights movement have approved a proposal to dissolve their village government.

Tuesday's ballot proposal to merge the village of Seneca Falls into the surrounding town of the same name passed by a vote of 1,142-1,037. Absentee ballots still must be counted, but if the vote stands the nearly 180-year-old Finger Lakes village government will dissolve at the end of 2011.

Supporters say dissolution will do away with costly duplication of governmental services and reduce property taxes.

"This has torn the village apart. Numbers can show anything you want, and here it's been neighbor against neighbor. It's very demoralizing for the village," Connie Sowards, a lifelong village resident and current village administrator/clerk, was quoted as saying by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

"I don't know what Seneca Falls is going to look like and don't know what kind of services we're going to have. But obviously we're going to make the best of it; we have to."

The village was the site of the first known women's rights convention in 1848. It also claims to be the model for Bedford Falls, the mythical upstate community depicted in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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