CATSKILL — Village trustees have passed a resolution granting Catskill Town Court jurisdiction over enforcement of village laws.
The resolution marks one of the final steps in the village’s court consolidation with the town. Dissolving the village court has been in the works since the beginning of 2020.
“We had to give the OK to allow the town to do our court from here on in,” Village Vice President Joseph Kozloski said. “We’re consolidating and moving everything over at the end of March. Starting April 1, our courts will be with the town and town judges would handle all of our cases.”
The merger will save the village an estimated $30,000 to $40,000 per year, Kozloski said.
“It’s new to us,” he said. “We’re not 100% sure what the actual cost savings will be.”
As many as three village employees will lose their jobs because of the merger, Kozloski said.
“That’s the sad part,” Kozloski said. “They will be looking for other employment.”
The village justices, William (Rick) Jacobs and Richard Paolino, are also judges for the town, Kozloski said. Terms for both expire in March, so the timing was ideal, Kozloski said.
“That’s why we did it this year,” he said. “We would have had to have an election for somebody if we kept the court system going.”
Trustee Greg Smith voiced support for the consolidation.
“It’s going to be good for everybody,” he said.
Trustee Natasha Law agreed.
“I am for the consolidation,” she said. “It doesn’t really make the village any money and it will save the village thousands of dollars annually so that money can be allocated somewhere else to hopefully benefit the youth. Both clerks will be losing their positions. I am grateful that they have stayed on to assist with the transition.”
Trustee Peter Grasse Jr. said some of his initial concerns were relieved by looking at other municipalities that have gone through the process.
“There were times throughout the whole process I was questioning are we losing the identity of the village by consolidating the courts,” Grasse said. “The last thing I want to do is lose the identity of the village of Catskill. I looked at other towns who have done it or are going through it now and it makes me much more comfortable about going with this decision.”
From a financial point of view, consolidating was the logical decision, he said.
“The operating costs and salaries were always on the increase and actual revenue was on the decrease,” he said.
The village is exploring the idea of maintaining a traffic court, Kozloski said. A clerk would handle traffic tickets and collect fines, he said.
Any contested tickets would be referred to the town court, he added. The village will be examining the traffic court in Hudson as an example, he added.