Village Dissolution Votes Approved In Northern New York
An update now on a story we brought you yesterday: Two villages in New York’s North Country will cease to exist at the end of 2016 following votes yesterday in which residents decided to dissolve their communities.
In the St. Lawrence County village of Hermon, 110 of the village’s 215 registered voters cast ballots. They decided 95 to 15 to allow the town of Hermon to absorb the village. While the numbers seem small, village Mayor Cathy Race says 51 percent is a large turnout. “Normally during just a typical election when there’s not a whole lot going on if we get 80 we’re doing well. So the outcome that we had 110 voters showing up makes me feel very confident that it is what people wanted and it is something that we need to keep moving forward with.”
The vote does not mean the village of Hermon immediately dissolves. Leaders have until the end of 2016 complete their dissolution plan, according to Mayor Race. “It’s going to be a lot of detail stuff that we need to address. We have to go through a lot of the laws. Some of them that are in there we discovered through the dissolution process are outdated and not needed. So everything has to be updated. Ownership of property and all that kind of stuff has to be taken care and deeded over to the town. We have to make sure that the sewer and the lighting and the water districts are all set, change of ownership done. Those types of things.”
In the Essex County village of Port Henry, 60.5 percent of eligible village residents voted 190 to 171 to approve dissolution. The idea to shutdown village government originated from a citizen petition circulated by Jeff Kelly and James Curran. Kelly says it came down to taxes. “The taxes are incredibly high and it was the two of us going around to doors. It was a little contentious but we won. The taxes will go down. I think it’s all for the better, because we were paying a lot, more than any other town around us.”
Port Henry also has until the end of 2016 to complete its dissolution. But because it was initiated through a citizen petition, there’s a different approach. Village Trustee and Deputy Mayor Matt Brassard explains they have 180 days to develop a dissolution plan. “After the 180 days we’re required to hold a public hearing on that plan. After that public hearing the public can force a vote on the plan. It’s the position of New York State that if that plan is defeated the dissolution process stops and the village would stay a village.”
Brassard adds that a village has never reached that stage. With the move decided by just 19 votes in Port Henry, he believes it could happen there. “The people that voted to keep the village, they’ve called the office asking if there’s a way to stop this. So I fully expect another vote on this.”
The village of Port Henry would be absorbed into the town of Moriah if it dissolves.