Medina picks consultant, names committee for dissolution plan

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 July 2013 at 12:00 am

‘We have an obligation to proceed. This is what we were elected to do.’ Medina Mayor Andrew Meier

MEDINA The Village Board hired a consultant and formed a committee to develop a plan for the orderly dissolution of the village, an end result that ultimately will need voter approval to become a reality.

The village was awarded a $50,000 state grant in February to develop a plan to dissolve the village and fold those government services and assets into the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway.

The board tonight voted to hire the Center for Governmental Research based in Rochester to help develop the plan. CGR will be paid $55,555. The organization assisted Medina and towns of Ridgeway and Shelby with a consolidation study about two years ago. That project showed the costs of providing services could be reduced by $200,000 to $400,000 with consolidation of services, plus the state would likely give the communities $600,000 annually as incentive aid for reducing layers of government.

“We’re beyond the study phase,” said Andrew Meier, the village mayor. “I’m hopeful we can come up with a plan that will reduce the taxes and preserve the services. That will be the question.”

The board hired CGR and also formed a citizen committee to help with the plan. Don Colquhoun, the retired executive director of The Arc of Orleans County, will lead the committee. Colquhoun participated in the consolidation study.

“He has extremely good organizational skills and he is respected by the two towns,” Meier said. “He is a godsend.”

Other committee members include Cindy Robinson, a Main Street business owner and president of the Medina Business Association and the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce; Charlie Slack of Slack Insurance; Thurston Dale, a retired veterinarian; Meier; and Village Trustee Mark Irwin.

The committee and CGR could have a plan in place in six to nine months. The Village Board could then accept the plan and schedule a referendum for village residents. Town residents outside the village don’t have a say at the polls on the village’s fate.

Meier believes reducing the village’s layer of government will cut taxes for village residents. Medina has the highest combined tax rate – village, town, school and county – in the Finger Lakes region. That rate is about $54 per $1,000 of assessed property, with the village accounting for about $16 of that tax rate. Residents outside the village don’t pay a village tax.

“We have a problem in the village and the county with very high tax rates,” Meier said.

He wants to reduce the taxes for village residents to make the community more attractive for residents and businesses for years to come.

“We’re going to get at solutions, not just Band-Aids,” he said about the tax problem. “We have an obligation to proceed. This is what we were elected to do.”

The committee and CGR could look at establishing districts for police and fire protection. Those districts could extend beyond the current village boundaries so there is a bigger tax base to support those services. Meier noted many of the properties on Maple Ridge Road enjoy village services and access to the village population base of about 6,000 people without currently paying village taxes.

“It makes intuitive sense,” Meier said about lower taxes with less government layers. “Let’s flesh out the data and see where it takes us.”