Keeseville Mayor Dale Holderman.
Members of the Keeseville Village Board of Trustees did their duty by adopting a dissolution plan after residents of the municipality voted in favor of ending the village earlier this year.
Now that a plan is in place with a referendum set for Oct. 22, Mayor Dale Holderman said he and his fellow board members are going to let people know how they really feel.
“Even though the board accepted the plan, we are all 100 percent against dissolution,” Holderman said. “I feel that there are holes in the plan and that the savings it represents are not accurate.”
The board accepted the plan that was created through a year-long process, which included the creation of a dissolution committee. Holderman, along with trustee Mary King, were members of the committee.
Holderman said one of his problems in the plan was how future salaries were calculated.
“They used the village labor rates to project payroll for the new town employees,” Holderman said. “Historically, the towns have paid much more to their employees than the village has. I believe that creates a $300,000 to 400,000 shortfall in the estimates for services, and that is just in providing wages that are equal to what they have been paying before.”
Throughout the committee meetings, discussion focused on if dissolution would mean lower taxes for residents of the villages along with comparable taxes for residents in the towns of Chesterfield (Essex County) and Ausable (Clinton County), both towns within the village limits.
The dissolution plan, with results from the study, stated that residents in all affected areas could save between $300 and $700 on their annual taxes. The calculations were based on a home assessed at $100,000.
Holderman said he was still unsure.
“I just couldn’t see how the town could do all of this cheaper,” he said. “To provide the same amount of services, it is going to cost more. I personally believe that 70 percent of the savings that this plan projects is not going to happen.”
Now that the matter has reached the point of public referendum, Holderman said he and the board will be talking with residents about their belief that the village should not be dissolved.
“We are talking one-on-one with people now,” he said. “There are not going to be any more public meetings or hearings. It is in the hands of the voters now, and that is what I wanted back when we accepted the original petition. I wanted this second chance for voters to have a final say on the matter, which they would not have had without the original petition.”
Holderman said that he has watched as other areas have discussed the matter of dissolution and brought it to a vote in Port Henry and Champlain, where both times the issue was defeated.
He said there seems to be a trend going away from dissolving villages.
“We now have the luxury of going to a Seneca Falls or a Fort Edward to see what has happened since and see how the people fee about it now,” he said. “I think that there has been a shift in how people look at dissolution.”
In the end, Holderman believes it comes down to control.
“When people in a village control their own destiny, you do not want to lose that,” he said.
The referendum on the dissolution plan is set for Tuesday, Oct. 22, with voting from noon to 9 p.m. at the Keeseville village offices.