Peter Fairweather and Tim Weidemann present findings during the Keeseville Dissolution Committee public hearing May 23.
While the consultants presented two versions of a Keeseville without government, it may have been the third that raised the most eyebrows.
Consultants Peter Fairweather and Tim Weidmann presented two options during the May 23 public meeting of the Keeseville Dissolution Committee, each with a different outcome when it came to any potential (or lack of) savings for taxpayers.
“The first is one would have all non-redundant services continue and be paid for by the former village properties, basically looking like the world does now but without a village entity,” Weidmann said, adding that it would lead to tax rate increases for properties inside the former village district.
According to their “most likely” figures, the tax rate for a village resident living in the town of Ausable would increase one percent and a village resident in Chesterfield would increase 3 percent. Both town tax rates would decrease significantly (19 percent in Ausable, 18 percent in Chesterfield).
“We have commonly agreed that no one likes this option,” Weidmann said. “No one wants an option where their taxes go up.”
Under the second options, special districts and other spending would be combined into the budgets of the two towns. Under that option, village residents in Ausable and Chesterfield would see significant decreases to their tax rates (38 and 47 percent, respectively), while the towns would also see a savings thanks to added state funding revenue for consolidation services (9 and 10 percent).
“We were able to determine an amount of savings in each area based on how similar the services are,” Weidmann said.
After the consultants presented their options, however, Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow added a third that would show even further savings, stating that he felt the consultants had been too conservative.
“I went through each one of these items and I know that we can do it for even less then they are saying,” Morrow said. “We do not need to add any new people at the town or any new expenses to keep these services available.”
One service that would no longer be provided under either option two or three would be garbage pick up.
“The committee came to a decision that it was something that could be removed,” Weidmann said.
With all three options, Weidmann said that there would be the elimination of village jobs. Also, any village debts, including retirement and other legacy costs, would carry over onto only the village taxpayers.
Fairweather said that through the process, the group tried to look at as many options as possible.
“We are looking at all of the options that we feel are out there,” Fairweather said at the meeting. “There are a lot of different ways to look at a study like this and the question is not just about should the village dissolve or not.”
“These are all educated guesses because this is the future and you cannot predict that,” Weidmann said.
The consultants said that they looked at three questions while doing the draft study: services that are currently provided that would no longer be provided in a dissolution of the village government, how much the remaining services would cost the towns and how should those remaining services be paid for.
The Keeseville Dissolution Committee next meets on Thursday, June 28, at 5 p.m. at the village hall to further revise the dissolution study and move toward the beginning phases of a dissolution plan, which takes one option and builds a plan for the elimination of village services around it.