Press-Republican

August 19, 2013

Keeseville dissolution plan vote set

By LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — KEESEVILLE — Voters in the Village of Keeseville will go to the polls in two months to decide whether they like the plan for dissolving their little municipality.

The Keeseville Village Board has set noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, for the public referendum on the dissolution plan — and the results will indirectly decide the fate of their village.

Residents previously voted to dissolve Keeseville; if voters in October reject the dissolution plan, the village will remain in place.

Village Mayor Dale Holderman is saying he expressed concerns about that plan before its passage.

The village has $14 million to $16 million in assets that have to be divested in a dissolution. The Village Board previously passed the plan created by the Joint Village Dissolution Study Committee without making any changes.

“We accepted the plan the way it was written, but I had reservations about it,” he said. 

“I think you’re going to be seeing more and more people speaking out. 

Holderman said the plan uses village labor rates to calculate post-dissolution costs for some services, but town labor costs are higher.

“Each step up in government you go, it costs more. There’s up to a $300,000 error as far as costs go.”

‘NOT MUCH IMPACT’

Chesterfield Town Supervisor Gerald Morrow said most town employees who would take over village services are already on the payroll, so a difference in pay rates wouldn’t have much impact.

“It doesn’t matter. We’re not hiring anybody to work for the Highway Department. In conference with my water superintendent, we will hire one or two more people for the (town) Water Department, but that will not take $300,000.”

He said the Chesterfield water superintendent would take over the village water system if Keeseville dissolves.

“He (the superintendent) won’t get paid any extra.”

He said when the new workers are not needed at the water plant, they will plow and sand village roads in the winter.

‘PLAN FLAWED’

The dissolution study showed that taxes would go down for everyone in the village. 

But for Keeseville residents with properties assessed at less than $60,000, the combined amount they paid could rise because their water and sewer fees would be higher.

In Chesterfield, 35 percent of village homeowners have assessments of $50,000 or less, while in AuSable, it’s 31 percent in that category, according to each county’s real property offices.

Holderman said he now believes that the base assessment needed to experience a savings from dissolution would be higher that the $60,000 in the plan.

“The plan is flawed. The majority of people in Keeseville will not see a decrease in taxes.”

Study Committee member and dissolution advocate Linda Liberty-Guimond said she believes taxes for village property owners would drop following dissolution.

She said she has no problem with a vote on the plan, as long as people understand what they’re voting for.

“Maybe there are things in the plan they don’t like. But the study showed that if you live in the Village of Keeseville, your property taxes — and that’s not including water and sewer rents, those are services — will most likely go down.”

The village has been slated to end its existence on Dec. 31, 2014, but if the vote on the dissolution plan is to turn down the document, it will remain in place.

The petition for a vote on the plan submitted by resident Sandra Clodgo had 256 valid signatures, and only 236 were needed to trigger a referendum. A minimum of 25 percent of the village’s 944 registered voters had to sign the petition.

The plan itself specifies how Keeseville’s dissolution would be handled and its property and services turned over to the towns of Chesterfield in Essex County and AuSable in Clinton County.

The referendum vote in January was 268 to 176 to dissolve Keeseville.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com