Village rejects move toward dissolution

A divided Village Board rejected a move Tuesday to begin the process of letting voters decide whethe
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A divided Village Board rejected a move Tuesday to begin the process of letting voters decide whether the village should be dissolved as a municipality.

After a heated debate, the board voted 3 to 2 to reject a motion by Trustee Mark Galasso.

Citing indications from a June 5 preliminary report by consultants that he said suggested “inefficient use of resources,” Galasso sought to create a volunteer commission to put their findings to a public referendum within 12 months.

Mayor Mike Sellers agreed.

“This action is very premature,” countered Trustee William D. Gilmore Jr., whom Sellers unseated as mayor in 2005.

“If we don’t start now, we’re never going to go anywhere,” Sellers argued.

Gilmore also criticized the validity of a draft report by consultants from the Center for Government Services, which is being paid $40,000 in state, town and village money to study sharing services or consolidation of the village and town of Cobleskill.

“There [are] some specific problems with the data presented to date,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore said that the day after their public presentation, a CGR consultant e-mailed village Police Chief Michael O’Brien that their suggestion the county sheriff’s department could effectively take over village policing was wrong.

“That was a gross error,” Gilmore said.

In 2006, the police force cost the village $855,556, according the CGR draft report.

“That study was poorly prepared at best,” O’Brien said Tuesday. “The $40,000 study, that the taxpayers spent money on … it’s confusing the public,” O’Brien told the board.

“It looks impressive, in terms of pages … and pie charts … but a lot of the material was duplicative,” Gilmore said. “The substantive material to back it up was not there.”

“Right now, we don’t have enough information to convince anybody about why the village should be eliminated,” Gilmore said.

Galasso, a longtime advocate of dissolving village government and merging services with the town, said elected officials were “smart enough” to evaluate the value of consolidation.

“It does not take a professional with a bunch of acronyms behind his name to do this,” Galasso said.

After the meeting, Sellers contended the consultants’ study was worth the money.

“I’m very happy with it,” Sellers said. He said he expected the final report expected by month’s end to contain more details.

Funding came from a $36,000 state grant and $2,000 each from the village and town.

Deputy Mayor Sandy MacKay opposed Galasso’s move to start the village dissolution process.

MacKay agreed with Gilmore, and Trustee Carol McGuire, that the board should at least wait until the final report is received.

“If [the village] is dissolved, we should be going for city status,” MacKay said. That option was also suggested by consultants.

As a small city, including the village and surrounding town area, MacKay has previously predicted potential tax and revenue advantages. Even former village Trustee Ted Brinkman weighed in as board members argued.

“As a taxpayer, what am I going to get out this if we dissolve the village,” Brinkman said. “We may be jumping the gun,” he said.

In other action, Tuesday, the board voted 3 to 2 not to resume fluoridation of village water, which was discontinued last August.

The vote followed months of meetings and discussions with local health professionals and despite a final appeal Tuesday by local dentist Gary Surman to resume adding the chemical to help prevent cavities.

Galasso, a member of the fluoridation study committee, moved to put the additive back in the water supply. Sellers agreed, but Gilmore, McGuire and MacKay, a committee member, voted against it.

Categories: Schenectady County

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