Montgomery County could win $20 million if Canajoharie dissolves

August 02, 2017 07:23 PM

VILLAGE OF CANAJOHARIE -- For over a hundred years, the Village of Canajoharie was fueled by the jobs in its Beech-Nut factory. Now, to do something with the empty building, Canajoharie may have to lose its title of village.

"We have to keep an open mind, because you are looking at millions of dollars that could be invested in this village," said Francis Avery, village mayor.   

Montgomery County is one of the six finalists in the running for a $20 million grand prize from the state Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition. In exchange, the state wants the village of Canajoharie to dissolve.

If Montgomery County wins the $20 million, it plans to use half to turn the western part of the Beech-Nut building into shared municipal offices, a centralized court system, and an extra barracks for the sheriff's department.

The county, town, and village would work out a plan to transfer village services, like police, fire, and DPW to the town or county. The county executive says both town and village taxpayers would save money and retain their same services under the plan. In addition, he says there will be minimal job reduction.  The village mayor and board would no longer be needed.

"When you can look the taxpayer in the eye and say we're going to lower your taxes. We're also going to fix one of the biggest problems not just in Montgomery County, but in this region, which is a very visible eyesore right along the Thruway," said Matt Ossenfort, Montgomery County Executive. "I believe, the town, the county, and the state is enough government quite frankly."

The mayor is open minded, but he's not yet convinced dissolving will save taxpayers any money.

"It will be very minimal savings, what this is all about is trying to find some money to put in the Beech-Nut. The question to the populace is going to be, is the amount of money worth dissolution," said Avery.

The town supervisor did not return our call. The county executive says the winner of the $20 million will be announced in September and village residents will vote on whether to dissolve in November 2018. There will be a public comment period.

If residents of the 188-year-old village vote to remain a village, the county will not get the money.

The county submitted a 12 point plan documenting how the $20 million will be spent.

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Asa Stackel

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