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Athens consolidation gets a judicial start

Nov 25, 2010 1:59 pm
ATHENS - Melanie Lekocevic of The Daily Mail reports today that officials in the Village of Athens voted 3-2 recently to dissolve the Athens Village Court and send all their cases to the Town Court, and that other moves ae underway towards consolidations of the two municipalities.

There have been similar discussions in the Village of Catskill in recent years. Greene County alspo maintains village giovernments in Coxsackie, Hunter and Tannersville, where consolidation talks have been rarer and more sporadic over recent decades.

The decision in Athens, Lekovic reports, was split in a 2-2 tie, and Mayor Andrea Smallwood served as the tie-breaker by voting in favor of the move. In addition to Smallwood, Village Trustees Herman Reinhold and Gail Lasher voted for the resolution, with Trustees Robert June and Tom Sopris voting against it. The winning rationale was that the move will save the village money. Opponents wondered whether town judges would know village residents coming before their courts as well.

In 2009, the court brought in $10,185 in revenue – mostly from fines and tickets – and spent $15,556 on expenses, meaning it operated at a $5,371 deficit. Expenses include the cost of salaries for the two court employees, social security, retirement contributions, supplies, the court’s software service and the like.

The court will be dissolved effective March 31, 2011.

Once that happens, village court cases will be heard by the two town justices, currently the Hon. Connie Pazin and Hon. James Robinson. The village would still receive the revenue generated by village cases.

The majority of village court cases involve speeding tickets, DWI and domestic violence. Smallwood said she spoke with the town justices and they said they would be able to pick up the additional workload.

Smallwood added that the village would form a “consolidation committee”, and would ask the town to appoint several of its members, to look at other ways in which the two municipalities could trim costs by consolidating services.

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