By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — KEESEVILLE — Voters decided Tuesday that the Village of Keeseville should dissolve and its assets be turned over to surrounding towns.
The referendum vote was 268 yes to 176 no to terminate Keeseville’s existence as a municipality.
Village Mayor Dale Holderman said citizens got what they wished for.
“The people have spoken, that’s what it boils down to. This is democracy.”
The Village Board must now meet within 30 days to adopt a plan for dissolution, which is subject to a petition for public referendum. If a vote is petitioned and the plan fails, then Keeseville does not dissolve.
That petition would require about 256 signatures, 25 percent of the village’s registered voters.
The option for a vote on a dissolution plan essentially gives residents two chances to keep the village. If the vote Tuesday had been to keep Keeseville, another dissolution vote could not have been held for five years.
A dissolution vote was held because resident Nancy Booth filed a valid petition under state law. Keeseville has about 955 registered voters out of 1,800 residents.
The village used a state grant to hire Kingston-based Rondout Consulting to prepare a dissolution plan. The plan calls for several special taxing districts — street-lighting, sidewalk maintenance, village debt, water, sewer — to take the place of the village.
If the dissolution vote stands, the village government will cease to exist after two years — on Dec. 31, 2014. Village property and some services will be turned over to the surrounding towns of Chesterfield in Essex County and AuSable in Clinton County.
All village jobs will end, although the towns have indicated they’d give former village workers first priority in hiring to fill positions, and one person each would be hired for the water and sewer plants.
The plan said that for the AuSable part of the village, taxpayers pay $2,375 a year now in taxes and fees on a $100,000 property. After dissolution, they’d pay $2,032 without state dissolution aid, and $1,931 with it. On the Chesterfield side of the village, residents pay $2,173 now, and would pay $1,791 without the aid, and $1,714 with it.
For homes assessed at less than $70,000, when special district taxes and fees replace village property taxes, those people could have to pay more than with the village, the report said; for example, a $166 increase for someone with an assessment around $30,000.
Village officials said 66 percent of the houses in Keeseville are assessed at less than $100,000.
“I hope people realize what they did,” Keeseville Village Trustee John Casey said after the vote was announced.
The next dissolution vote in the North Country will be for the Village of Champlain in Clinton County. That vote has been set for Tuesday, March 19.
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