The home page of the Keeseville dissolution study committee’s website, keeseville.ning.com.
As Keeseville Dissolution Committee members started to look at the draft of a plan that may lead to the village’s end, talks over a couple of issues got very heated.
During the June 28 committee meeting, some members of the committee were upset with estimates made by town supervisors Gerald Morrow of Chesterfield and Sandy Senecal of Ausable.
“I think to sustain these services, seeing a lot of zeros really bothers me that there would not be an increase somewhere along the line,” village Trustee Mary King said.
“It gives people the wrong impression that there is no added costs when the village goes away,” added Mayor Dale Holderman, to which both Morrow and Senecal responded that was not the meaning of the numbers.
“We have people already doing these things and the extra work that it takes people to do those things will not cost us anything,” Morrow said.
“We have enough people to handle these things,” Senecal added. “What is over and above dog licensing, building permits, assessing and judicial? What is above that we are already doing? The clerk already handles records management. We are already doing everything that these services provide.”
King persisted, asking Rondout Consulting’s Tim Weidmann if the areas where the supervisors had zeroed out expenses were usually done in other studies.
“They usually do not have zeros, but not for the reason that you think,” Weidmann responded. “They do not usually have zeroes because we do not usually have the supervisors in the room. This is something you do not want to be wrong about in the wrong way.”
“I feel that these numbers are truthful,” Morrow added.
Committee members Butch Clodgo, Maury Bressette and Linda Guimond agreed with the supervisors.
“Why is it so important that we have to add these costs to the towns,” Clodgo said. “We are only doing this for perception, and that is not the way to do it. I do not see where we need to add numbers in there to make people feel better.”
“What the supervisors are saying is not impossible,” Bressette said.
“It’s not for me to come in here and say that these numbers are not accurate when you guys know what your work load is,” Guimond said. “You're not looking to be a hero. I think that we should respect the two supervisors sitting here.”
“I don’t see this as not respecting the supervisors,” King insisted. “I think that it is about substantiability. I don't think that adding 800 people and not have some increases along the line of some kind.”
“I am not inheriting the 800 people; we have already had the 800 that are part of the village in our town,” Morrow said. “I already have those people in my town and take care of them very well.”
Weidmann said that there were other ways to deal with a perception problem.
“There may be a perception problem, but there are creative ways around that which differ from the numbers solutions,” he said. “Maybe you have a transition position that is in place for one year.”
Commission v. district
King also expressed concern that the dissolution process needed to include a water and sewer commission, instead of relying on the two towns to create special districts, the common option in most towns.
“The citizens are going to want to know what is going to happen,” King said. “I have watched the fire commission work well for years. It would convince me that things are fair and balanced.”
Clodgo said that he felt it would bring more trust into the process.
“There is not a bunch of trust in the politicians,” Clodgo said. “There is a lot of concern that one town will control water and one town will control sewer. The way you make sure it does not happen is to have one commission that controls the whole thing.”
“You are wrong when you say that the people do not trust the politicians,” Morrow said. “We created a district on Augur Lake because they would rather have the politicians in control more than the private companies. As far as I am concerned, everyone will have the same price for the water or sewer.”
Senecal said that anything done with the water and sewer districts would be done through a mutual agreement between the towns.
“Won't there be an agreement between the two towns anyways?” she said. “We had a contract for the library and used to have a contract for the police and a schedule that states the price for everything in there.”
Weidmann said that he believes the towns would have to charge equal rates to “both sides of the river.”
“From my research, it would be very hard to charge the residents of one town and another town different rates,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get an official answer from the state and that will ease some of those concerns.”
Holderman said that he wanted the matter decided as part of a dissolution plan.
“The village board can say that they want that spelled out before they accept any plan,” he said. “I think that all of the opinions need to be out on the table.”