Press-Republican

October 16, 2013

In My Opinion: Keeseville dissolution letter challenged

By GERALD MORROW
Press-Republican

---- — I am Chesterfield town supervisor and was a member of the Dissolution Study Committee that worked on the Village of Keeseville Dissolution Plan before it was presented and “accepted” by the village mayor and trustees.

I write this to correct the remarks the mayor recently made in the Mayor’s Corner letter that he sent out with the water bills at the expense of the village taxpayers. I’ll address each and every one of the mayor’s statements with the true facts, not maybes or fiction.

First, I’m glad the mayor admitted he opposes dissolution. That just shows he has a closed opinion, not an open mind.

As I always stated at the Dissolution Committee meetings or public meetings, I am neutral on dissolution, and, as always, I will answer questions with the truth.

The Dissolution Plan is not flawed as the mayor claimed. The mayor claimed the town employees’ salaries are more than the village employees’ salaries. The mayors’ statement that the towns’ labor rates are higher than the villages is false. The truth is the village employees’ salaries are more than our town employees’ salaries.

Our town has assumed, as I’ve stated in the past, the following services after the village stopped providing these services for their residents: assessing unit, dog-control services, court system and code enforcement/zoning duties — with no extra costs to either the village or town taxpayers.

The mayor spoke about how they “maintain control,” then why does the village so very often send their residents to our Town of Chesterfield Office to receive their services? Fortunately, we can assist them.

Mayor Holderman talked like our town governments are foreign governments, not even in your community, but, truth be told, we are in your community.

Our town officials are elected by all the residents inside the Town of Chesterfield, including the residents in the Village of Keeseville.

Our offices are located in the Village of Keeseville, and my office door is always open at 1 Vine St., where you can find me on a regular basis.

The mayor took credit for the six new businesses, including the new Stewart’s Shop, like he was responsible for bringing them to Keeseville. No one person should take credit for the new businesses.

The mayor stated the Village Civic Center is valued at more than $5 million. The truth is the assessment on the Civic Center is slightly over $1.4 million, according to the 2013 Town of AuSable Assessment Roll, in which all values are at 100 percent.

He stated that the village has a Planning Board, Zoning Board and a building inspector back on staff who volunteer their services. The truth is the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals are volunteers, but the building inspector is on salary at $6,500 per year from the village budget.

The mayor stated that I vowed, as supervisor, that there would be no tax increase if the village dissolved. That is true, but the mayor also stated that I will cut services. The only service I ever thought should be cut is rubbish removal, an expense the taxpayers pay for even if they don’t use it.

What I said at the May 7 Town Council meeting, which the mayor was present at, was: I give my word that you can take to the bank — due to the village dissolution there will be no increase in taxes or I will resign as budget officer; the budget will be well within 2 percent tax cap. I guarantee it.

The mayor stated that the cost of town government is higher than the village, but the truth is the Town of Chesterfield tax rate is $5.34 per $1,000 of assessed value versus the Village of Keeseville tax rate of $7.50 per $1,000 of assessed value.

As stated earlier, I’ll always answer questions with the true facts.

On Oct. 22, the village voters will go to the polls to decide the fate of the Village of Keeseville.

Whatever happens, at least the residents have a say in the decision.

Gerald Morrow is supervisor for the Town of Chesterfield.