Hearing Monday on village of Middleburgh’s future
MIDDLEBURGH A hearing is scheduled Monday on the fate of the village of Middleburgh, which residents will consider eliminating altogether in a vote Feb. 19.
Scheduled to attend the hearing at 7 p.m. in the Middleburgh High School auditorium on Main Street are representatives from the village, the town of Middleburgh and former Mayor Gary Hayes, who submitted a petition last fall with sufficient signatures to require a vote.
Contending the village represents an extra layer of government, Hayes has said dissolution has been a topic of consideration for years and he believes elimination of the village would save taxpayers money.
Mayor Matthew Avitabile believes residents will be considering more than their wallets when they head to the polls, however.
“I think people need to weigh what does their heritage mean to them,” he said.
Hayes could not be reached for Friday, but in a letter published Jan. 13 in The Sunday Gazette, he cited several factors he believes support a vote to disband the village. The loss of about 17 properties over the past decade, with a half-dozen more being considered for a flood buyout, is whittling away at the village’s tax base, he wrote.
The village and town already share a commissioner of public works, municipal attorney, justice court and planning board, and the village stores its highway equipment in the town barn, Hayes said in the letter. Meanwhile, he said, recent economic development successes have taken place in the town, not the village, and can be accomplished in the future by the town.
“We are all one community. Do we need both governments?” Hayes said in the letter.
Research the village distributed suggests eliminating the village altogether would save about $70,000 annually, but Avitabile believes the loss of a municipality will mean more than that. The village depends on non-property tax revenue such as federal and state aid, including highway funding, and the projects that revenue pays for will still have to be done — but by the town, without the village’s additional revenue.
“If we lose the majority of that, every penny that we save would wind up being an increased tax,” Avitabile said. “I don’t think we can throw this away so quickly and so easily. But the village will abide by what the voters say.”