October 30, 2013

Editorial: Guiding village to its end


---- — The people of Keeseville have spoken — again — and now the course for village leaders is clear.

They must put full their effort into dissolving the village and smoothing the transition to town government.

Twice now, the majority of voters have said they want the village government to disband. They want municipal oversight to be enfolded in the towns of AuSable and Chesterfield.

Last year, a Joint Village Dissolution Study Committee was formed, and, working with consultants and public input, that group conceived the Dissolution Plan, which was later approved by village trustees without any changes. Village residents voted back in January to approve dissolution. 

But then, a petition was circulated that forced the Oct. 22 vote on the Dissolution Plan. More than half of Keeseville’s 900 or so registered voters turned out that day, deciding 288 “yes” to 200 “no” to continue toward replacing the village government with town authority.

What was the role of the mayor and Village Board as the residents they represent contemplated whether they wanted to continue under the present form of government?

Certainly it was the administration’s job to see that a Dissolution Plan was created to detail how the change might come about and weigh some of the costs associated with it. Keeseville leaders did see that task completed.

But then, Mayor Dale Holderman and some Village Board members started to campaign against dissolution.

We are disappointed that they didn’t maintain neutrality, especially the mayor, who used a village mailing to urge residents to reject dissolution. He sent out a two-page “Mayor’s Corner” insert, laying out why he didn’t want to see Keeseville disappear. Aside from the fact that town officials say it included a number of factual errors, it came across as self-serving, as his position would dissolve along with the village.

There are ways to share concerns in a more subtle manner, so residents aren’t left feeling their leaders are biased.

Even after the second vote upheld the desire for dissolution, Holderman was still sounding bitter about the decision in a radio interview, saying, as if it were fact, that after three years, taxpayers in the current village area would be paying 20 percent more than they do now.

His adamant opposition to this change leaves us wondering how helpful he will be in steering his government through to its voter-endorsed conclusion. The mayor needs to show leadership is making sure this switchover happens with as little impact on individual residents as possible.

Keeseville will end its existence on Dec. 31, 2014, and village leaders need to guide it out with professionalism and cooperation, for the sake of residents.