KEESEVILLE — Almost 70 people turned out this week for the unveiling of the next-to-last version of a dissolution plan for the Village of Keeseville.
Tim Weidemann of Rondout Consulting presented the new draft of the plan, which would guide how the village would be dissolved and its property turned over to the surrounding towns of AuSable in Clinton County and Chesterfield in Essex County, if approved by voters.
Keeseville Village Mayor Dale Holderman said the Dissolution Study Committee will meet again in September for a public hearing on the final plan, then the committee will present that version, with any adjustments, to the Village Board for consideration in October.
“It’s (then) up to the Village Board whether they want to put it up to vote.”
If the board declines to hold a public referendum on dissolution, residents could force a vote by presenting a valid petition to the village.
Holderman said they had a good turnout at the meeting Wednesday night.
“We let the public know how far we were in developing the plan. There were a few comments, mostly concerning tax benefits, or not benefits, depending on how you look at it.”
The plan projects an annual $459 property-tax savings for village taxpayers in Chesterfield, and $546 for those in AuSable, assuming state dissolution aid continued.
“The numbers came out OK for village residents, with the figures the consultant supplied,” Holderman said. “I think the savings will be a whole lot less.”
The mayor said that without annual dissolution aid, the towns would have to raise taxes 4 or 5 percent, and there’s no guarantee the state will continue the funding.
“I’m starting to form an opinion against dissolving the village,” the mayor said. “The savings will be pennies, compared to the services you’d lose. I don’t think it can be done without any increase in taxes.”
He said the village is sharing services and running more cost-effectively since he was elected mayor last year.
“With proper management of the village, you’ll get a lot more (savings) than you have in the past. The village is changing in a good way. There’s a lot of community spirit, community effort to turn the village around. Give it time to work.”
Chesterfield Town Supervisor Gerald Morrow said the questions at the meeting were mostly about how the towns would handle dissolution.
“There were questions like how can towns can do the same services as the village at little or no cost? My answer was we already do those things. My code-enforcement officer started doing building permits for the village, and he didn’t get a raise.”
He said services that are duplicated between the towns and the village will just be assumed by the towns.
“I’m already the budget officer for the town. I’m not getting a raise (to include the village). We’ll just take it over.
“We already do those services.” he said. “The village got rid of their court system two years ago; the (town) judge and court clerk didn’t get a raise.”
Costs would be spread out over the whole town, Morrow said.
“We’ll share the historian, the library, the Youth Commission. There will be some (additional) costs but nothing extravagant.”
Morrow said they were asked if water and sewer districts would have to be created for the village area, and the answer is that they probably would.
“Chesterfield will more than likely take over the water. The water source is in Chesterfield. AuSable will take over the sewer. The sewer plant is in AuSable.”
Most of the village debt service is for the water and sewer systems, and that cost would remain with village residents, Morrow said.
He said some village property could also be sold at the time of dissolution to help reduce the debt service.
Morrow said he’s not taking a position on dissolution but believes it should be put to a public vote for village residents.
“People ought to have a right to vote. I don’t promote dissolution, but I promote your right to vote.”
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