October 17, 2013

In My Opinion: Village shouldn't be dissolved


---- — The Village of Keeseville is at the crossroads.

The most important matter that Keeseville residents now face is the Oct. 22 vote on whether to dissolve or keep our historic village intact.

I ran for mayor to save and improve Keeseville — not to abet its destruction but help guide it to a better, brighter future.

The Board of Trustees and I, as Mayor, are unanimously opposed to dissolving our village. The village is more than one individual; it is an entire “community.” Our community’s needs are most important to us.

With the vote soon coming up on the plan to dissolve, village residents need to know the straight true facts, not the “maybes.”

We feel that the plan is flawed for many reasons, some of which are because it does not use the costs that the towns will bear. The plan only uses the amounts that the village incurs.

A serious flaw is in salaries alone. Are the towns paying their employees at the same rate as the village? Are the costs of maintaining the village services going to be the same or more than the village government spends now? Will the response time to village problems or needs be the same? The answer to just these few questions is no.

We, as a village, now maintain direct control of all village needs and services. We control the water and sewer rates. We pledge to maintain a steady tax rate. We have control over village property and equipment bought with village money.

The officials that you elect live in your own community and work to preserve village funds, which will stay in the village instead of getting spread throughout the towns.

These officials can provide residents with help quickly and directly. If there is a village-specific problem, having the village government in place allows it to be addressed now as top priority, not later, behind other town priorities.

As mayor, I can state that in just one year, Keeseville has made great progress — six new businesses, new sidewalks and street paving and a Farmers Market.

Also, many safety items throughout the village are finally being improved. And bottom line: The village is now in better financial shape than it has been in a very, very long time.

We now have a fully staffed Planning Board, fully staffed Zoning Board and a building inspector back on staff. These folks are volunteering for the betterment of our community because they see a bright future for Keeseville.

To all voting residents of Keeseville, history is our best teacher. Not one community in the state that has gone through dissolution has seen any reduction in taxes to date, but rather the opposite — they get higher.

The most savings, if any, will be for people with the highest assessed homes. But none for those who could use it most. I, for one, do not want to bank my tax future on a “maybe town tax decrease.”

All residents, not just a few, should vote on the plan, whether to dissolve the village, or to keep and support it and preserve our local heritage.

Remember, as a village, we make our own laws, collect our own taxes, spend our money in our own community, and we elect our own residents to represent us.

Do “you” want to give up that precious right of self determination for a bigger town government? I don’t like the idea of someone outside our community making those decisions.

A strong, fiscally responsible, community-minded village government is our best and simple answer to move into the future and make Keeseville the community we all want and deserve.

Please vote “no” to save the village. A “yes” vote dissolves it.

Dale Holderman is mayor of the Village of Keeseville.