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Debate valuable even if Potsdam village survives vote


I am going to vote to eliminate the village of Potsdam because common sense says that one government could do the job as effectively and more efficiently than the two we have now.
But I have never expected common sense to win when it comes to the issue of getting rid of the village. I told Steve Warr that a couple of years ago when he won a trustee seat in Potsdam running on a platform of dissolving the village. I still believe it today.
Here is the math that will kill the effort to get rid of the village:
n The amount of money per month that an average property owner in the village would likely save through dissolution is chump change for X number of voters who make enough money to afford two governments.
n X number of voters don't own property and don't get a village tax bill. They get the milk without having to buy the cow. Why would they vote for change?
n X number of voters have village jobs or know someone close to them who does. They are not going to vote for the chance of collecting unemployment benefits.
n X number of residents are elitists who don't think that town officials could handle the task given them by dissolution. In layman's terms that they would never say publicly: They aren't about to hand over control to folks they think are doofuses.
All those Xs will add up to defeat of dissolution. No study, prediction, projection, blog or lawn sign related to dissolution is going to impact the vote as much as the bulleted items above. This vote isn't about facts, it's about feelings.
Common sense says one government would be as effective and more efficient than having two. But that's not a fact.
Common sense says you don't need to spend $2.2 million for village police protection to cover 4.4 square miles where crimes only occasionally get more violent than someone talking on a cell phone while driving. But that's not a fact.
There are very few facts when it comes to dissolution. And it is hard to prove opinions.
Seneca Falls is in its transition year after voting to dissolve the village in 2010. The people down there who were against dissolution before the vote are still against it. They are barnstorming the state with the message that dissolution is a mistake.
Others in that town, whether proponents of dissolution or just people forced to deal with the transition, say that making the change is a challenge but that Seneca Falls residents will be better off when the dust settles.
Time will tell which of the opinions about the dissolution of Seneca Falls is closest to the mark. The only fact that exists now is that voters there were not afraid of change. The majority ignored the natural fear of the unknown. They voted with common sense.
It would be nice if that happened in Potsdam. I just don't think it will. The people against dissolution have done a pretty good job of disguising speculation as fact in their campaign to keep the status quo.
I would never begrudge people for voting against dissolution – no matter what their reason. And I am grateful to Mr. Warr and others for pushing to give residents the chance to vote yea or nay.
The vote may not end up eliminating what I think is an unnecessary layer of government. But discussion during the last few years about eliminating the village has forced everyone to look at spending, to talk about making government more efficient and less costly. That's a good thing.
The future of Potsdam is going to be different – better – as a result of that discourse, whether the village as we know it survives or not. That's a fact. Well, maybe not, but it is surely something I hope ends up being true.

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