Voters will decide fate of village in March election

Village residents will decide Speculator’s future next month when they go to the polls to vote on a

Village residents will decide Speculator’s future next month when they go to the polls to vote on a dissolution proposition.

Mayor Neil McGovern chuckled Thursday and recalled running for mayor — unsuccessfully — 20 to 25 years ago on a dissolution platform.

This time around, he said, he’s going to pull the lever to keep the incorporated village government intact.

But he also said that he’s going to pursue serious talks with the Lake Pleasant Town Board to implement budget modifications that will result in the cost of government being spread out more evenly throughout the town.

The referendum is the result of a petition process that started in 2006.

“When this was first presented, I was a trustee at the time,” McGovern said.

He said he didn’t sign the petition but didn’t take offense — as some people did — when others put pen to paper.

“I saw it as a real good opportunity to look under the hood at the way the village and the town do business,” he said, and to look for ways to consolidate services and maximize savings.

McGovern said an analysis of the budget process revealed inequities and he provided a couple of examples.

Village taxpayers assume the total cost of all snow removal and highway equipment used in the village and 40 percent of the cost of the same type of vehicles purchased by the town, whether or not they are used in the village.

McGovern said that percentage should be lowered to 25 percent.

Village residents pay for their street lights but they also chip in for street lights in the town, and should not, he said. “Sometimes common sense and equity isn’t found in government so you look for these things,” McGovern said.

McGovern said he’s gotten positive feedback from town officials that they’re willing to have serious talks on such issues.

Collie Smith, a former mayor and currently a trustee, was named chairman of the committee the Village Board had to appoint after the dissolution petition was filed.

He said representatives from the Center for Governmental Research were called in to conduct the government efficiency study.

“Their conclusion is there is money to be saved by village taxpayers if the village is dissolved now,” he said.

Smith said the researchers estimated that someone with property valued at $100,000 in the village would save in excess of $300 a year in taxes while someone in the town with a similar assessment would see an increase of about $160 in their tax bill. But he still hopes it doesn’t pass, and endorsed the mayor’s idea of working with the town to budget more accurately to reflect actual costs. Bob Kuiken, who spearheaded the petition drive, said village leaders initially rejected the petition but capitulated in state Supreme Court and agreed to form the dissolution committee and undertake the study.

Categories: Schenectady County

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