PORT HENRY -- A petition to dissolve the Village of Port Henry was turned in Monday night to the Village Board of Trustees.

The 187-name petition submitted by William Mitchell has been in the works since before January.

If approved by the Village Board, it would trigger a dissolution study, followed by a public vote. If the vote was successful, the village would go out of existence two years after the referendum.

"I have a petition to present," Mitchell said as he arose from the back of the room during a village public meeting.

"Hopefully, you'll go ahead and do the study. It should be an independent person" to complete a feasibility study.

Village Mayor Gary Cooke said the next step is to present the petition to Village Attorney Tina Soloski for review.

"The point of all this is to get government that works," Cooke said. "We'll do the proper study. We're on the same page."

He said he would support doing a study whether the petition was deemed valid or not. A valid petition would have to be signed by one-third of the village's 502 registered voters.

At 187 signatures, the petition submitted is 16 more than the minimum 171 signatures needed.

Trustee James Hughes said that by state law they must now review the petition for validity.

"They (signers) must be qualified electors. Every person's signature has to be verified."

A dissolution petition submitted in 2004 was 39 signatures short of the minimum required.

The current petition drive was started by Mitchell and William Carpenter.

The village plans to hear from Speculator Village Dissolution Committee Chairman Munro Collie Smith at 1 p.m. Friday, April 18, on how his village studied dissolution. Speculator was petitioned last year to hold a dissolution referendum.

Speculator voters overwhelming rejected dissolution in a March vote. The meeting with Smith will be open to all.

Hughes said Port Henry will not only study dissolution, in which the Town of Moriah would take over village assets and responsibilities, but annexation, a process in which the village would separate itself from the town.

Village residents now pay a village property tax and an abridged town tax.

Port Henry business owner Walter Wojewodzic said representatives from towns where villages have dissolved should also be consulted.

"If there isn't a savings in dollars, that's the only sense in doing it."

Trustee Ruth McDonough said that when the Village of Ticonderoga dissolved in 1994, the hope was that taxes there would decrease.

"Taxes went down the first year. They have escalated every year since."

When some of the 20 people at the meeting began debating the pros and cons of dissolution among themselves, Wojewodzic said they should wait for the study to see if any savings would be achieved by dissolving.

"We could be here arguing all night."

E-mail Lohr McKinstry at:

lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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