State legislation to make village consolidation easier
CAPITAL REGION A bill passed by the state Legislature that makes it easier for villages to dissolve has come at a time when several area villages are considering such a move.
The bill, which was proposed by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, now goes to Gov. David Paterson for his expected signature.
Several villages in the Capital Region are exploring the possibility of dissolving and becoming part of the towns in which they are located.
The idea, in such places as Schuylerville and Lake George Village, is to save taxpayer money by consolidating and sharing services.
“It streamlines the process and makes the [dissolution] process very clear,” said state Sen. Elizabeth “Betty” Little, R-Queensbury, about the proposed law.
Little, who co-sponsored the bill in the Senate, said the bill makes it easier for the residents of a village or other governmental entity to petition for a dissolution.
“It’s an emotional issue,” Little said about a village considering dissolution.
“It comes down to the tax rate and keeping the services the same,” Little said.
In her Senate district, she has four villages considering dissolution. The village of Speculator in the Adirondacks has gone through the process and decided not to dissolve, she said.
The new bill would make it less confusing when a governmental entity or its residents attempt a consolidation plan. She said the bill does not provide state grant money for consolidations, like earlier consolidation bills do.
Mayor John Sherman of Schuylerville said he does not support the new legislation. Residents in the village of Schuylerville have petitioned the village board to consider dissolving the village and becoming part of the town of Saratoga.
Sherman maintains that dissolving the historic village of Schuylerville wouldn’t save any money and village residents would lose services.
“It isn’t going to make sense for us,” Sherman said. “It’s not the answer.”
Because a large enough number of residents petitioned the village board, the board must have a study done and name a committee to study the issue, including financial matters, and make recommendations.
The group of residents petitioning the village for the consolidation study thinks taxpayers would benefit if Schuylerville and the nearby village of Victory both became part of the surrounding town of Saratoga.