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Village dissolution options to be weighed

LAKE GEORGE - The proposal to eliminate one level of local municipal government will again be presented to the public.

Village of Lake George officials have scheduled a public informational meeting Tuesday, July 27, to present the results of the study of village dissolution that the board commissioned.

Funded with a grant from the state Department of State, under the Shared Municipal Services Program, the study was conducted by Fairweather Consulting, and concluded last year. The task was directed by a local steering committee comprised of Town and Village residents, chaired by Village Trustee John Root.

A final report, containing three possible options, was presented and accepted by the Village Board in July 2009. The report contained a summary of present Village services, assets, debts and possible disposition of them if the public indeed voted to dissolve the municipality.

The initial two public hearings, that were lightly attended, raised many concerns and additional questions from Village and Town residents. All three options presented in the study forecast a reduction in Village taxes of between 19 percent and 30 percent while town taxes outside the village were estimated to increase from 9 percent to 40 percent.

While local officials have said they couldn't support a plan that forecast a tax increase, the sticking point is how to distribute assets - about $12 million - and village debt, estimated last year at $3 million. Fairweather recommended the formation of districts to directly assign costs for services to those who receive them - like street lighting - and to assign the debt only to the village residents who incurred it.

Much of the impact of dissolution upon the two separate communities would depend upon a plan, agreed upon by Town and Village officials, prior to a vote. Trustee John Root and Trustee Raymond Perry, both who served on the steering committee, voice opinions at a recent meeting that agreements between the Town and Village boards is unlikely due to the complexity of the issues and the relative size of the Village's assets, revenues and debt. Without a guaranteed plan to offer Village residents, the Village board of trustees appeared split recently on whether the matter should be placed on the ballot at the Village's March 2011 general election.

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