Tim Weidemann of Rondout Consulting led the final Keeseville dissolution meeting.
Almost 50 people attended the final dissolution study committee public input meeting on Oct. 17.
As always, Rondout Consulting founder Tim Weidemann led the meeting, outlining the findings of the study committee and answering questions from the public.
Weidemann has been involved in all aspects of the dissolution study, including conducting a fiscal analysis of dissolution options.
Before getting into details, Weidemann made clear that the dissolution study report does not recommend that dissolution will or should occur, it only outlines the expected impact of three options for dissolution.
Of those three options, option three has widely been viewed as the best choice if dissolution were to occur, and was the focus of the latest meeting.
As was the case with previous public meetings, several village residents voiced their concerns over property taxes and how dissolution would affect municipal services now provided by the village, specifically water, sewer and garbage.
“If you’re a resident in the village, the short answer is that property taxes will decrease if the village dissolves,” Weidemann said.
Average taxable assessed value of property in Keeseville is about $70,000.
Weidemann explained that the cost of municipal services would likely increase under dissolution, though.
For properties around the average assessment value, the savings on property taxes would likely be greater than the increase in municipal services, resulting in a decrease in total cost.
Properties with lower taxable assessed values with a high usage of municipal services could see property tax go down a little but also see municipal fees go up a lot, resulting in an increased overall cost.
If dissolution were to occur, sewer and water would be divided, with Au Sable taking over sewer and Chester taking over the water.
The study also shows that, after dissolution, tax rates could decrease for residents in Chesterfield and Au Sable Forks.
Weidemann also noted that, in the wake of dissolution, about 13 village positions would be eliminated, including: village mayor, deputy mayor, three village trustees and deputy clerk.
Eight new positions would in turn be created: sewer operator, sewer clerk, sewer laborer and seasonal laborer in Au Sable Forks and water operator, water clerk, water laborer and highway equipment operator in Chesterfield.
Dissolving a village isn’t free, though.
Weidemann estimated that dissolution would cost village residents between $20,000 and $25,000, which includes both legal and accounting fees, appraisals, and costs related to the termination of former employees.
To cover the cost, the village could seek a grant from the New York Department of State’s local government efficiency grant program.
A petition, initiated by village resident Nancy Booth and signed by registered voters in the village, was turned in to the village’s town clerk Sept. 25, and will force the topic of dissolution to a villagewide vote.
The petition contained 122 signatures, 119 of which were verified as registered voters. The amount of signatures is more than the 10 percent of registered voter signatures required.
The date for the referendum must occur within 60-90 days after the enactment of the resolution (Jan. 30 at the latest).
Under New York state law, the referendum can take place regardless of whether a dissolution plan or study has been finalized, or even started.
If village residents vote to move forward with dissolution, the village has 30 days to meet to discuss a dissolution plan (Feb. 28 at the latest), and another 180 days after that meeting to approve a proposed plan (sometime in August).
A village board meeting to establish a date, time and place for the dissolution vote will be held Oct. 25 at 8 a.m. at the Keeseville Village Hall. The meeting is open to the public.