By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — KEESEVILLE — Keeseville residents will vote at the end of January 2013 to determine whether the village should wink out of existence.
Polls for the dissolution referendum will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the Village Hall on Liberty Street.
If the vote is to dissolve Keeseville, the village would cease to exist as a municipal unit on Dec. 31, 2014.
A dissolution petition submitted in September by resident Nancy Booth had 122 signatures, 119 of which were ruled valid by Village Clerk Lynn Hathaway. The effort needed 109 signatures to trigger a public vote.
Keeseville has about 955 registered voters out of 1,800 residents.
Mayor Dale Holderman said the Village Board voted unanimously Thursday to accept the petition and hold the referendum. Trustees Mary King, Kathleen Klages and Robin Bezio were at the meeting, while Trustee John Casey was absent.
Holderman and King also serve on the Keeseville Village Dissolution Committee, and Holderman said that group will meet for the last time Monday, Nov. 5, to accept the final plan for dissolution drafted by Rondout Consulting, the village’s consultant.
The Village Dissolution Committee had been meeting for months before the petition submission, working on a plan for how dissolution could be accomplished.
The plan was presented to the public on Oct. 17 at a meeting attended by more than 50 residents. It specifies what would happen after dissolution and how the surrounding towns of Chesterfield in Essex County and AuSable in Clinton County would take over village property and services but is not binding on those towns.
The Village Board will next vote to approve the dissolution plan, but probably not until after the Jan. 22 vote, the mayor said.
“Based on the vote, we’ll work on the plan and modify it if necessary.”
Holderman said they’ll probably take receipt of the plan at a Nov. 13 meeting.
If the vote is for dissolution, the Village Board then has 180 days to finalize the dissolution plan and hold a public hearing on it.
Once the plan is finalized by the Village Board, it is subject to a voter petition for another referendum, this one to accept or reject the plan. If the plan is rejected in that vote, dissolution would be suspended.
That petition requires the signature of 25 percent of the village’s registered voters, an increase from the 10 percent needed to force a vote on dissolution itself.
Holderman said he was glad someone petitioned for a dissolution vote because that also allows for a second vote if someone submits a valid petition.
If the Village Board had simply voted to put dissolution on the ballot of its own direction, instead of by petition, no second vote would have been possible.
The dissolution plan shows a savings of $382 for Chesterfield residents and $343 for AuSable citizens on a $100,000 assessed home, assuming state dissolution aid to the towns continued. For those with homes assessed at less than $70,000, the report says they’d pay about $166 more in fees for special districts than they pay now in village taxes.
Following dissolution, Chesterfield and AuSable would take over village services like water and sewer utilities, and private haulers would have to be hired by residents to pick up trash that the Village Department of Public Works collects now.
Thirteen village jobs would be eliminated and eight new ones created by the towns, based on the plan. Village employees would probably be given first preference for those new jobs, officials have said.
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