The Questions Of Our Need For A Village Manager vs. Dissolving The Village Of Monticello

Responding to my initiative to disband the "village manager plan", as it was called in the 1954 referendum adopting Monticello's present form of government, some have already replied that they would prefer to take this a step furtherby dissolving the Village of Monticello and merging it into the Town of Thompson.

Times have changed since March 16, 1954 when the manager form of government was adopted by a vote of 492 to 206. For this reason, the section of Village Law that deals with Village Managers was removed from the statute as long ago as 1973.

Today, in 2011, I do not believe having a Village Manager serves Monticello's interests. I believe a majority of voters will agree with me.

Consolidating Monticello into the Town is an idea that has been explored in the past, and I have supported it. However, there has never been enough of a consensus that it seemed likely a dissolution ballot question would pass. Apparently no one else has thought so either, since no one has ever taken the steps to put it on the ballot. Governor Cuomo has said he wants to increase the financial incentives for villages to dissolve, so maybe this will change.

But Monticello presently has not one, but TWO, managers! All combined, our Village Manager and Deputy Village Manager earn $120,000 plus full health and retirement benefits. The Village Manager holds a contract saying that he only works part-time.

No other village government in Sullivan County has, or needs, a Village Manager. Neither does Monticello need one - let alone TWO!

If there is a person or group in Monticello who believes that a referendum to dissolve the Village has enough of a chance of passing that they are willing to answer all the questions necessary to allow the public to cast an informed vote, I hope they do so. It would either pass or fail on its merits.

In my opinion, good arguments exist to dissolve the Village. On the other hand, there are many details that would have to be studied and made clearer. For example, what would happen to the police department, and to police protection in higher crime areas? How much would village residents pay in user fees to maintain street lighting and water districts? What about other services now provided by village workers? My point is that while there merit in the idea of dissolving the Village, I am not prepared at this time to push the idea until these and other questions are answered.

Whoever is elected Mayor in 2012 will be as qualified to serve as Mayor as the Mayor of Liberty, Wurtsboro, or any other village, and equally or more qualified and competent as our current Village Manager. Monticello has had elected Mayors serve in this capacity a number of times in the past.

The Town of Thompson itself does not have, or need, a Town Manager. Tony Cellini does a fine job of that as Town Supervisor.

For the record, I have no plan to run for Mayor in 2012, but I believe qualified candidates exist and will run.

Our present highly paid part-time Village Manager does not know how to treat people or to attract businesses to Monticello, which probably explains why he is has never been able to win an election in the Village of Monticello. A well chosen Mayor can match or exceed recent managerial accomplishments, for much less money. Nothing personal against our present managers, but I believe an elected Mayor could do as well or better.

A simpler question than whether to dissolve, at this point, is whether we need to maintain a highly-paid Village Manager or Managers to do the same job that Mayors do in other municipalities of similar size. Anyone registered to vote in Monticello is entitled to sign or carry petitions to change our form of government, which is what I have decided to do. The question has not been put to the public since 1954.

On July 23, 1996, before he occupied his present highly-paid position, a certain Monticello resident was quoted in the Times Herald-Record, "...resident John Barbarite stood up and asked why the village needed a manager at all..."

I agree. We do not need a Village Manager.