Schoharie County

Should voters dissolve village of Cobleskill?

Dissolving the village of Cobleskill would cut $30,000 in spending on a village clerk and another $1

Dissolving the village of Cobleskill would cut $30,000 in spending on a village clerk and another $15,000 for a village attorney.

Despite the inherent savings, doing so would likely hike accounting and legal costs at the town level.

Dissolution also would lead to eliminating the police department — leaving officials in a bind to provide law enforcement in the busy college village.

These and other “pros and cons” of dissolution are among topics to be explored today during a public forum to outline research and elicit public thought.

Unlike the brief process that ended with voters rejecting dissolution in the village of Middleburgh earlier this year, Mayor Mark Galasso said Cobleskill is taking its time.

Middleburgh residents learned in December 2012 they’d be voting on dissolution just two months later, and the process chosen there entailed leaving precise details of dissolution to be developed after the vote.

The ongoing process in the village of Cobleskill is likely to lead to a vote, but not before all details are fully explored, Galasso said.

“What I want to make sure of is that when the vote occurs, that people are voting yes or no with a clear understanding of what they’re voting for or against,” Galasso said.

The committee today will present a draft list of “pros and cons” of dissolution, broken down by department, and call on the public to add their input.

Galasso said police coverage will be a critical sticking point because eliminating the village police would create a vacuum in law enforcement.

Rural areas of the town of Cobleskill may not need more than county sheriff and state police patrols, but state law doesn’t allow for a police service district.

So that would leave officials with few choices, including creating a townwide police department, nixing dissolution altogether or asking the state Legislature to change the law so affordable police coverage could be confined to the village department’s current coverage area, Galasso said.

“We need a police force; it’s irrefutable. It’s just how do we do it in the most economical manner,” he said.

Following an exploration of pros and cons, the research will move to precise financial implications to the budgets of both the village and the town, which would also see a taxpayer impact.

Galasso said the town officials are being invited to hearings as well despite no requirement to do so in state law.

The proposal for consolidation floated by Middleburgh revealed a greater impact on town taxpayers, none of whom were able to vote during the February referendum.

“By state law [town taxpayers] don’t have a say in whether or not the village dissolves, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hear from them,” Galasso said.

Only after a public meeting covering financial implications would the village consider putting dissolution or other options like consolidation up for a referendum.

The Village of Cobleskill’s dissolution/consolidation committee hearing will take place at 7 p.m. today in the firehouse at 610 E. Main St.

Documents detailing pros and cons will be posted on the village’s website.

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