KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
HOOSICK, N.Y. -- Most Town Board members say they are not in favor of the Village of Hoosick Falls dissolving, as it would either increase or shift the cost of needed police services the village provides.
Village Mayor Matthew Monahan attended a Town Board meeting Thursday, seeking input to take back to the committee responsible for studying the question of the village dissolving or sharing services with the town. Monahan said the committee is at a point where it needs to know what options are viable and asked the Town Board for input.
Many split on issue
In February the village was awarded a grant to study the dissolution question. Monahan said the committee has been working since May and has held public meetings. He said the committee and many people seem split on the issue, some favoring dissolution while others favor sharing services.
Town Supervisor Keith Cipperly asked for an informal poll of the board. "I would definitely vote against dissolution," he said, saying that if the village police were to expand their coverage to the town, funding for the department would have to go up. If they were to keep to the village, then town taxpayers would be subsidizing a service they do not receive.
Board member Bruce Patire said funding for the police department would have to double for it to be effective on a townwide scale. He said the village also cannot be without a police force. "There would be chaos without police," he said.
His sentiments were echoed by board member Jeff Wysocki.
More information is needed to make a decision one way or another, said board member Louis Schmigel, who is a member of the dissolution committee. Schmigel was also recently elected highway superintendent and is expected to leave the board by next year. "I think there needs to be more information before we make this decision," he said. "What are we being asked to take?"
He said there would have to be some cost increase if the police department were to be controlled by the town, but how dramatic that increase would be no one can say.
Monahan said the current cost of the police department is $460,000 per year. He said that from what he has been hearing, townsfolk close to the village are more in favor of it while those farther out are less so.
"I wouldn't vote for it at this point," said board member Mark Surdam, who is also on the dissolution committee. He said there is enough time to think about it more.
Town Clerk Susan Stradinger said that from the people she has spoken to, many are not in favor of dissolving the village as they value the sense of identity it gives them. They seem more inclined to share services.
Monahan said he was not advocating for one position or another, but said it is important for the options to be explored as the village's tax base is expected to shrink over the next seven years, and caps the state has on raising taxes will make providing the same level of services difficult. He said having the board's input was valuable as the committee can now focus on forming shared services and consolidation plans.