Mayor Conway urges closing court

VOORHEESVILLE – The village board last month discussed, again, the dissolution of the village court, which could occur next spring.

Mayor Robert Conway told board members at a workshop meeting in July that Village Justice Kenneth J. Connolly would not seek another term when his ends in 2014. Conway said that the board should consider a resolution to dissolve the village court.

“It’s an opportune time,” Conway said.

“It costs the village money,” said Clerk Treasurer Linda Pasquali of the court last August.

“Courts cost more to run than they bring in,” Connolly said last year. “The court shouldn’t become a profit center.”

“I honestly enjoy doing it,” he said, then.

The board examined the closure of the court last year, and two years previously, as it reviewed its budget.

This week, Connolly confirmed that he would not seek a new term in 2014.

“I’m going to be 75, and 79 at the end of that term,” Connolly told The Enterprise. “Seventy-five is probably not an inappropriate time to retire. I love it. I’m going to miss it. I think it’s time.”

The village will recoup about $8,000 into its general fund if the court is dissolved. Pasquali said this week that, because the village has no police force to ticket traffic offenders, the village court does not generate revenue from tickets, as other courts do.

“The [village] attorney’s going to look into how the court was created,” whether by local law or by resolution, Pasquali said. The village will propose the court’s dissolution in the same manner, she said, and will hold a public hearing before the board votes to dissolve the court.

Connolly said last year that the village court meets twice a month on the first and third Mondays. He and Court Clerk Sue Gruss, as with all local justices, are on call 24 hours per day if area police need an arraignment, Connolly said. Connolly’s village justice salary is $10,000, he said, while the court clerk is paid by the hour.

The court sees traffic infractions and cases of crime in the village. Connolly also handles small claims court cases, he said. The court collects an $85 surcharge set by the state for each case, he said last year.

Connolly served as town judge from 1979 until 2003. He spent 16 years serving concurrently in the town and village courts. He has spent the last several years filling in for justices who cannot be in court, working in Troy and Albany. After his term in Voorheesville ends, he will be unable, legally, to continue that work, he said.

“I’m still working in the senate, with the legislature,” he said. “I don’t want to make a four-year commitment.”

Village Hall, where the court is housed, is currently undergoing a renovation that includes redistribution of the court space.

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