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Chatham mayor looking to abolish village court

Dec 27, 2020 5:45 am

Emilia Teasdale is reporting for The Columbia Paper Chatham Mayor John Howe December 13, proposed the village board abolish the village court. Howe said he had promised a “cost versus the benefits” analysis of the court and its operations when he was elected in 2019. He said he cost of its maintenance balanced against the revenue it produces are “pretty much a wash.” And he pointed out the village pays for two police officers to be at court when it is held. Village Attorney Ken Dow said there are some conflicts with state election law and village law on the timing for the court's dissolution if it has to go on the village ballot. “The timing gets a little tricky here,” he said. Dow is also the county Democratic Election Commissioner. The village board could pass a local law to abolish the court, but, as a permissive referendum, the board would have to give residents 30 days to petition the board’s decision. If 20 percent of the village residents sign the petition the question of dissolving the court would go on the village ballot in March of 2021. Dow also noted the village cannot dissolve the court in the midst of a village justice’s term. Judge James Borgia-Forster’s term expires April 1, Dow said. Dow's advice: “Basically you have to have it done pretty soon” due to the timing of the elections and the justice’s term. Howe said the issue would be discussed further by the board at its January meeting. Read the full story in The Columbia Paper.

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