My name is Michael Maak and I writing to inform voters in the Town of Ridgeway and Village of Medina why I am running for Town Supervisor.
A little bit about who I am for those who may not know me. I am a life-long, 50-year resident of the Village of Medina in the Town of Ridgeway side. For some that may not be aware the Village of Medina is split between two townships. I have lived in the village on the Ridgeway side since I was born.
I worked as a Village of Medina Fire Department employee, retiring in January 2016 as Captain. I served 27 years as a paid employee having served two years prior from 1987 to 1989 as a callmen firefighter. I continue today to work in the emergency services as a Paramedic.
I am running for Supervisor to represent all residents of the Town of Ridgeway including the taxpayers that live in the village. I feel that for as long as I have been an adult, the village taxpayer is only acknowledged when one runs for office or more recently when the Village of Medina held a dissolution vote. Only then were the taxpayers given any attention from the Town Supervisor.
As a taxpayer in the of the village in the Town of Ridgeway, I feel that we have taxation without representation. We pay taxes and receive nothing in return with the exception of the campaign put on by the town to scare village residents with a misleading narrative for not dissolving the village in 2015.
I am running to advocate a better equality for all taxpayers and not just those in the town. In 2015 it was pushed for more discussion for shared services with the Town of Ridgeway, Shelby and Village of Medina that has been lost in the years following with no real discussion or resolution to share or consolidate. I have a plan if elected.
First of all, I want to look at a merger of the Town Highway Department with the Town of Shelby. It is an opportunity that was missed this year to consolidate the Highway Superintendent position with the retirement of the Ridgeway Highway Superintendent.
An endorsed candidate in the Town of Shelby has campaigned on the issue that the position can be changed. It is my opinion that, just like the Town Court, we could combine the two Superintendent’s position into one and form a Shel-Ridge Highway Department that eventually could be merged with the Village of Medina DPW with one superintendent for the three municipalities. This would allow for money already in the budget to go from salary to having another employee to clean ditches or maintain roadsides that have been neglected.
Another area is the Emergency Services of which I am very familiar with. I would like to see more funding to the Ridgeway Fire Department as I feel that they are currently underfunded. This has lead to a decline in recruiting and maintaining volunteer firefighters and EMT’s. I know firsthand that many do not stay in the fire service because of the continued need to fund raise for the Fire Company.
When I first got involved there were many members and always enough responders. Today numbers would astonish people that less than five people respond to calls on average. My proposal is to look into creating a Fire District of which a Board of Commissioners chart their course for funding and how they survive for the future as volunteerism is dying in our country.
This is not a new concept. This already occurs in the county in the Towns of Barre, Murray and Kendall and with a Joint Fire District with Holley Fire Department. This could potentially lead to another merger of the fire departments in the Western Battalion that is composed of Ridgeway, Yates and Shelby.
A recent Hub article about the Clarendon Town Supervisor Richard Moy bringing the attention to the decline of the volunteer fire department. My proposal for a Fire District removes Town of Ridgeway Council from negotiating a contract with the Fire Department and allows for the Board of Commissioners setting the annual fire tax with the town taxpayers voting on this annually as is the case in Fire Districts.
Thirdly, I want to look at the budget and see where we can put money that village taxpayers contribute that goes back into assisting the Medina Village Board with road and sidewalk upkeep, tree maintenance, and potential tax relief with a share of sales tax revenue that currently goes to the Town of Ridgeway with the Village of Medina seeing nothing for this.
My fourth plan is to promote and advocate for more renewable energy projects with in the Town of Ridgeway.
In closing, I say this that if you are happy with the way the Town of Ridgeway government is working for you then I accept that. If you are unhappy with how the Town Board and Supervisor have worked for you as a taxpayer in recent years then I am asking you give me your vote and I will work diligently to find ways to change things and potentially provide more for the tax dollars spent, with the hope of maintaining and containing costs. With some changes we could lower the tax burden.
I have worked and retired on the taxpayer dime and I am very aware of cost containment and very fortunate that my career allowed me to retire with a pension.
I hope you give me your vote on Nov. 5.
Democrat-endorsed candidate for Town of Ridgeway Supervisor