To the Editor:
On 9 July 2014 the Town Board of Willsboro voted to eliminate one of two Town Justice positions. By doing this it would eliminate one Justice and one Justice Clerk. This action is subject to a public referendum, per New York Town Law. One Willsboro citizen has expressed concern on our process and accused the Town Board of practicing a pattern of secretive or closed government. I would like to set the record straight as to the background and reasons I, as Town Supervisor, have pursued this action.
In the first place this initiative was not started until after Justice Paye, the incumbent Judge whose term ends at the end of the year, had told us that he was retiring from the bench at the end of his term. Justice Paye is held in the highest regard by the entire community of Willsboro and in Essex County. He has given sixteen years of honorable service as a Willsboro Justice and his experience and learned judgment will be missed.
During the March 2014 Town Board meeting I opened discussion on the possible elimination of the Justice position at the end of Justice Paye’s term. I wanted to inform the Town Board and the public, and to get Town Board concurrence to proceed toward that end. I openly discussed this initiative with both Town Justices and each of the Town Board members. I sought procedural guidance from the Town Attorney, the County Attorney, and solicited individual members of the general public.
My reasons primarily are to provide optimum service under increasingly strict fiscal constraints. Costs for the town are increasing, particularly with a looming sixteen percent increase in employee health insurance premiums paid be the town next year. I believe that the town can well afford to operate with one Town Justice.