Two things have been made clear over the past nine months: Dissolution is in the best interest of the village of Keeseville; but the board of trustees, especially Mayor Dale Holderman, will do everything to stand in its way.
The Keeseville Dissolution Committee has been meeting since January, assigned by the village board to look at the possibility of the dissolution of the village along with other options that could save taxpayers money.
The Valley News has been present at all but one of these meetings, watching the process unfold and the reactions of town and village leaders. No one else can say that. Only once has there been a reporter from another news agency present, and that person is currently employed by us.
Through those meetings, it has become clear that village government is not needed in Keeseville and thus needs to be dissolved.
First, the towns of Ausable and Chesterfield already provide many key services for the residents of the village. Towns are responsible to provide services to all their residents, outside or inside the village. Also, village court and other services have already been taken over by the towns. Eliminating the village eliminates the redundancy that currently exists.
When it comes to water and sewer, the two towns have already stated their commitment to continue to serve the residents. Members from each town council have also brought up the possibility of expansion, lowering rates for all system users.
Holderman, who was elected to the position after the dissolution committee had started to meet, sent out a letter to residents of the village voicing his opposition. “Village residents lose so many of the things that citizens have worked for over 100 years to accomplish. There are no legal means to hold either of the Towns to their agreements. There is no guarantee that any Village Resident will receive any services at all.”
We strongly disagree. As we have said, the towns already provide the majority of the services that village residents currently have, with little needs of expansion. Garbage collection will be eliminated, but there are still transfer stations.
Does Holderman really think that town governments cannot be trusted? Does he truly believe that Gerald Morrow, Sandi Senecal or other North Country supervisors do not have the best interests of their constituents in mind? Or, is this an attempt to save the jobs of elected officials that can be consolidated easily? Is this just an attempt to pit village against town in a border war over a border that really isn’t there?
Addressing the other point of losing identity, what is really going to be lost? People will still call Keeseville by its name, just like they do in Bloomingdale. The Revitalize Keeseville organization will still be able to work to improve the community, with Holderman hopefully staying on as a contributing member.
Another issue is Holderman is a sitting member of the dissolution committee which was formed to be an “un-biased” group. Holderman stated when he started on the committee that he had no bias, but that is no longer the case, and therefore he should resign his position on the committee. We are not saying that he should no longer be mayor, but he should not have an official capacity on the committee.
It has become apparent that Holderman and the board will not act on the Dissolution Plan when it is presented to them. The members each showed their hand. Mary King, a trustee and committee member has not spoken as openly against dissolution but has spent the past three meetings trying to thwart it. There was also the village sanctioning an anti-dissolution meeting Aug. 28, along with the letter sent out by the mayor. We question if an official village newsletter is the right place for a personal, political statement.
At the very least, the village board should allow the residents they represent to vote on the matter without having to call for a vote through referendum, where signatures representing 10 percent of registered voters in the village are required. The choice seems clear: If it’s about what is best for the taxpayers, then the village board will allow a vote.
But if it’s about making themselves look needed or saving elected jobs, then the village board will do nothing, leaving residents with the sole option of referendum. Do the right thing.
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