ROUSES POINT — Village officials are currently discussing dissolving the village court.
Mayor Daniel Letourneau brought up the option during a board meeting earlier this month as a way to save funds after learning about Pfizer leaving in 2018 and creating over $2 million in revenue losses.
“We’re going to have to make some tough decisions,” said Letourneau. “But we have to figure out ways to save money.”
Letourneau said if the village favors this option, dissolution wouldn’t happen until March when Judge John LaBonte, who’s also serves as one of the town of Champlain’s judges, term ends. Trustee Thomas Dart agreed with the proposition.
“I don’t think we should continue with the village court,” he said during the meeting. “We need to start saving the taxpayers money and this is one good area to start.”
Besides LaBonte, the village court contains two other positions: Judge Christopher Latrermore and Court Clerk Marie Quain.
Those three salaries, along with computer and office equipment, cost the village $76,792 each year. Letourneau said he did not know the exact cost the village paid to the town.
“I don’t want to see the village justice go away,” Letourneau said. “But paying two taxes for one service doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
No final decision was made during the meeting, but Letourneau said discussions on eliminating the court system will continue.
Letourneau said he believes there will be no issue with the dissolution since the village of Champlain successfully got rid of their court system in the early 2000s and merged their caseload with the town.
Quain and Town Court Clerk Janice Letourneau said their caseloads differ from week to week. “Some weeks we get a lot and some weeks we get nothing,” Quain said. “It varies a great deal.”
On average, West said the town court gets 25 to 40 tickets per week and hold courts nights every Wednesday and Thursday beginning at 5 p.m.
The village court, which is located in the Rouses Point Civic Center, holds three to five court dates each month starting at 5 p.m.
Quain said she didn’t want to make a comment on the village court dissolution due to being uncomfortable with the situation.
Town of Champlain Judge Kevin Triller declined to make a comment without conversing with a lawyer first.
Labonte did not return numerous phone calls and messages from either office before this story went to print on Tuesday.