Press-Republican

June 10, 2013

Two public hearings set on Keeseville dissolution

BY LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — KEESEVILLE — Keeseville public officials went on the road recently to find out how Chesterfield and AuSable would handle matters if the village dissolves at the end of 2014.

A public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday will allow the public to weigh in, and a second one is scheduled for 1 p.m. June 19.

Although voters approved dissolution, the Village Board must still pass a plan describing how that would be handled. No date has been set for that vote.

If the plan is adopted by the board, it would be subject to a permissive referendum, so if 25 percent of registered voters, 256 people, sign a petition, a public vote must be held. If a public vote on the dissolution plan were to fail, the village would not dissolve.

Otherwise, the village would cease to exist on Dec. 31, 2014, and the towns of Chesterfield in Essex County and AuSable in Clinton County would assume its property and functions.

UTILITY DISTRICTS

At a Chesterfield Town Council meeting, Keeseville Mayor Dale Holderman and Trustee John Casey asked how the town would handle the continuation of water and sewer utilities serving the former village. They also wondered if any staff would be added and whether present village workers would be given first preference.

Chesterfield Town Supervisor Gerald Morrow said the town has created water and sewer districts before and would create them for Keeseville.

“We will handle the water/sewer the same as it is now — not a hitch,” he said at the meeting.

“Yes, we will be forming a district. We can’t go into the Town of AuSable; they will have to create their own water district, same as for the sewer districts.

“We work well together with the Town of AuSable. I’m sure our water people will work with their people.”

Morrow said they wouldn’t hire a water-plant operator because they already employ one, but village employees would be considered for any openings.

“(Our) intention on hiring current village staff is, yes, if they apply and meet qualifications, of course, they will be given first choice at a job.”

TAX IMPACT

Morrow said he agrees with the Village Dissolution Study that there would be minimal impact on town taxes, although village residents would begin paying the higher town-wide tax rate.

They currently pay an inside-village rate that is less than the town-wide rate because village taxes cover duplicated services.

“We do agree with little-to-no financial impact,” Morrow said. “Now, people inside the village pay $1.86 per $1,000 (of assessment) less for town taxes than outside residents.”

Morrow said he would make budget cuts if he has to toward the goal of keeping town taxes from increasing after dissolution.

LEVEL OF SERVICE

Attending an AuSable Town Council meeting, Holderman and Trustee Mary King asked questions of AuSable Town Supervisor Sandra Senecal.

Senecal said she told them AuSable would also create new water and sewer districts to cover its part of the village. Both supervisors have agreed Chesterfield would run the village waterworks, while AuSable would assume operation of the village sewer plant.

She said AuSable plans to add a sewer-plant operator, and they believe that would be sufficient.

“It will be the same level of services,” Senecal said in an interview with the Press-Republican. “They (Holderman and King) had concerns about if we need to hire people, will we look to village employees first? We will. They’re trained.”

Senecal said she has no opinion on village dissolution.

But, she said, "iIf it does (dissolve), we will do our best to provide services. There are a lot of resources out there to help us along.”

The towns already handle property assessing, dog control and local justice courts for the village, she said.

USE OF PROPERTY

Holderman asked if the town would provide zoning laws for the former village, since AuSable does not have zoning of its own.

“We don’t have a zoning document, but we have regulations to cover what we need,” Senecal said.

“We have subdivision regulations, local laws to take care of certain issues. We have site-plan review. We’ve had subdivision regs for 12 years.”

The AuSable Town Planning Board is already reviewing the Keeseville Village Zoning Law, Senecal said.

“We have tasked our Planning Board to look into that, to review it. They are doing that.”

The information from Chesterfield and AuSable is being incorporated into the final plan, village officials said.

Email Lohr McKinstry:

lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com