Northern New York Newspapers
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NNY Living
Sun., Aug. 30
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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‘To be or not to be, that is the question.”

Hamlet’s inquiry into the meaning of his own existence has long riveted fans of William Shakespeare. Pondering whether life would be more bearable if we were no longer part of it is a very sobering issue.

And while he’s not on stage at the Globe Theatre in London, one official for the village of Gouverneur has been asking the same question. The issue of dissolution is once again making the rounds.

“I think we should reopen that discussion,” Gouverneur Deputy Mayor Charles W. Newvine said in an article in Sunday’s issue of the Watertown Daily Times. “That’s what I’m looking for. It has to be an in-depth conversation.”

The possibility of dissolution has been previously discussed among village officials in Gouverneur, but it never went any further. Mr. Newvine, though, believes it’s time to take another look at it.

“The village of Gouverneur shares more services with its town than many other municipalities. They have a single code enforcement officer and one justice court under the auspices of the town, and soon will combine sewage treatment services,” according to Sunday’s story in the Times. “But some village taxpayers feel they pay twice for services such as road maintenance, Mr. Newvine said. While obstacles could exist for dissolution, such as how police protection would be provided and how the operations of highway crews would be merged, they are not insurmountable, he said. Mr. Newvine said he does not see the sense of two municipalities so intertwined with each other both continuing to exist.”

Gouverneur Mayor Ronald P. McDougall expressed a willingness to give a debate over dissolution another try.

“That takes a lot of analysis. I think we’re always willing to study things,” he told the Times. “Why not take a look at it? All we need is one more vote.”

However, Mayor McDougall said he would not support dissolution if the primary purpose would be to eliminate the Police Department. The responsibility for police protection would transfer to the town if the village’s agency disappeared.

It’s not certain if Gouverneur or any other local community will go through with dissolution. But it’s certainly worth an examination to see if certain functions could operate more efficiently.

Rather than dissolution, perhaps towns and villages could discontinue individual police departments. The revenue spent here could be redistributed to the counties to enhance their sheriff’s offices. Comprehensive police protection could then be offered to all communities by focusing patrols regionally at times when police service is most needed in these sections.

If more municipalities examined dissolution, a broad discussion about how to provide vital government services in cost-effective ways could result. In some cases, going the “not to be” route would make the most sense.

But in other cases, adjusting who performs what functions would suffice. The idea is to begin the discussion and see where it leads.

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