CHAMPLAIN - The Champlain village board of trustees will not pursue the possibility of dissolving the municipality.
Mayor Gregory R. Martin said the board has discussed the matter since it was brought before the village in January by resident John K. Triller. In a letter, Triller formerly requested the board take "immediate and appropriate action for the dissolution of the village."
Triller cited the fact the village no longer operates a police department or court among reasons for the move.
"We looked at this very seriously," said Martin, who remarked board members reviewed material from other towns and village that have gone through dissolution process. "We also received a ton of material from the Department of State and we looked at it. Each one of these dissolution processes is kind of unique."
Upon reviewing the materials, Martin said the board felt there would not be a substantial savings to the taxpayers or any other benefit.
"Honestly, I don't think the village residents will save any money by dissolving the village," said Martin. "I don't think the tax rates are going to go down. We're going to lose control over our services, local control over our policies."
Progress the village has made in recent years to stay afloat despite being subject to unfunded federal mandates like other municipalities is evidence it is important the village having its own government and identity.
"The village of Champlain over last six years has been very well maintained," said Martin. "Our tax rate is very reasonable - more than reasonable. And, I really feel our water and wastewater rates are below the median for New York state and they're very reasonable for the product that we have."
The issue of blight and a lack of businesses in the village's downtown area - which is something Martin feels those for dissolution feel would improve if they got their way - wouldn't necessarily get any better without village government.
"I know we have problems, but I have to ask myself that if this village was dissolved today, would that situation get any more attention down there," said Martin. "I don't think it would."
However, Triller said the matter needs to be formally studied before it is brushed aside.
"I think they didn't act on fact. If they could sit there and present budget information or other resources you could rely on that's one thing ... but opinions were offered that the village is better than it was five years ago," said Triller. "Which is ironic, because anybody who approaches me about it at the shopping center, the hardware store, the car dealership, are for [dissolution]."
The overall cost of hiring a consultant to conduct a feasibility study, combined with the time it would take to gather enough data to satisfy residents like Triller would be "a tremendous amount of work" that could take "two to three years to be completed."
"I don't mind the work, but I don't have a large staff," said Martin.
I am just not convinced it will save the village residents any money," he continued. "If I was 100 percent convinced, I'd recommend we do the study and see how it plays out."
That may not be up to Martin or the board, however, said Triller.
According to the New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act, the dissolution process can be put in motion if 20 percent of registered voters in a municipality of 500 or less overall registered voters. Martin said that is true and that a figure of 10 percent published in other local news media was inaccurate.
Regardless, Triller said he believes he will gain enough support in a petition drive he is beginning that will ultimately force the hand of the board to move forward with a study.
"It's all up to the voters. That's what it should be," said Triller. "Not the five people who sit on the village board. I don't think they're a true representation."