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Village of Hermon will study dissolution

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HERMON — The village has applied to the state for a grant of up to $20,000 to study dissolving itself.

“We’re just going to take the steps and see where they go. We want to see how the numbers come out, to see if there are savings,” Mayor Cathy L. Race said. “There’s a lot of public interest in it.”

The village of Hermon offers few services to residents. The town of Hermon already handles the roadwork. The village clerk, who is planning to retire, works part-time five days a week for $10,000 annually and no one is jumping at the chance to replace her, Mrs. Race said.

The sewer plant is aging, so part of the study could look at whether it makes sense for the village to continue to exist if an upgrade was sought.

The village has one person to call on if something breaks.

“Sometimes, you need more than one person,” Mrs. Race said.

A study might show all the advantages or disadvantages of dissolution, she said.

“We’re pretty fortunate because we’re debt-free,” she said.

Mrs. Race said she is not worried about the possibility of her own job disappearing.

“I do enjoy it. I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “I would just like to see my tax bill go down. If it’s not a smart idea, we can still walk away.”

Edwards does not seem to miss its village that was dissolved Jan. 1, 2013.

“Things have gone fine,” Town Supervisor Sharee D. Lanphear said. “There is no difference in this town other than people aren’t paying village taxes. Most people who come into the town office don’t know the difference between the town and the village, and they never did.”

What is different is that Edwards receives $102,000 from the state annually as an incentive for consolidation.

“We’re supposed to get it indefinitely but we’re not sure of that,” Mrs. Lanphear said. “We figured if we got it a year or two, we’d be lucky.”

Town tax rates dropped from $12.19 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $9.08 per $1,0000 of assessed valuation for 2014.

The money has also been used to create a contingency fund, the lack of which Edwards was criticized for in a state audit, Mrs. Lanphear said.

The tax rate decline might have been even greater if it were not for increases in retirement and health insurance costs, she said.

Like Edwards, Hermon has an advantage with dissolution in that the town and village share a name, which could diminish any perceived loss of identity.

Some other north country communities have rejected dissolution. Richville turned it down in 1996; Potsdam voters rejected it in 2011; Mannsville said no in 2013. The idea of dissolution never went beyond talks in Norwood and Waddington.

Gouverneur has toyed with the idea of dissolution in the past and may do so again, as Mayor Ronald P. McDougall and Deputy Mayor Charles W. Newvine are interested. An application for a study could be in Gouverneur’s future.

“That’s probably something we could take up, should take up,” Mr. McDougall said.

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