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Hey Ridgeway and Shelby – What is your plan for the Village of Medina?

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 March 2014 at 12:00 am

Editorial

Town officials from Ridgeway and Shelby have come out strong in the past two weeks, blaming the village of Medina for doing a poor job of keeping residents apprised of a possible village dissolution.

The two towns have used taxpayer dollars to send out a mailer offering “facts” about the dissolution. This mailer went out right before the village election and helped elect two write-in candidates over incumbents who favored looking into dissolution.

The two towns have an ad on Orleans Hub, promoting “Cares and Concerns” hotline. Residents are encouraged to “record your questions and concerns about the proposed dissolution of the Village of Medina.”

They have two Facebook pages – “Medina Dissolution Facts”and “Dissolution Facts” – devoted to dissolution, offering to take all questions and provide answers that are not forthcoming from the village.

The towns have criticized the village for not being more public about the dissolution meetings and documents, but yet the hotline is a private line and the questions can only be seen by the towns. The Facebook pages only seem to allow public posts from the towns’ point of view. Medina Andrew Meier posted on the page but his comments were taken down. So was a story from Medina Journal-Register reporter Howard Balaban. He checked with the state, which said promised state aid for a dissolution was a sure thing, forever. That is about $650,000 in extra state aid annually to the community. The towns took down the link to Balaban’s article.

The towns owe it to the community to say who is running this page. Are the five members from each Town Board united in every comment? Or is one town official managing the site? Or is someone being paid to run the pages?

And why aren’t comments allowed to stay on the page, especially from the village mayor who is seeking to offer the village’s side of the story? The towns proclaim these sites are a forum, but they seem very one-sided, with the towns trying to control the information.

That is no way for a democracy to function, especially when people – according to the towns – are hungry for “facts” about the dissolution.

Better yet, the towns should put out their plan for what would happen with a village dissolution. Town officials have been dismissive of the entire dissolution process, saying studies are a waste of money because the two towns don’t have to follow the Dissolution Committee’s recommended plan. Well, Shelby and Ridgeway Town Boards, what exactly is your plan?

Village residents very well could vote later this year to dissolve the village, and then it will be up to the towns to plow village streets and provide some services. The Dissolution Committee has tried to come up with an orderly dissolution plan for fire, police, water, sewer and other services. Ridgeway and Shelby have only said they don’t have to follow this plan.

The towns claim the public has been left in the dark about dissolution, but the meetings have been heavily covered in local media. The Center for Governmental Research has a trove of documents on its web site about the dissolution process so far.

The village and the Dissolution Committee are planning public hearings after a dissolution plan is voted on the Dissolution Committee. The towns are blaming the committee and village for not presenting a plan that has not yet fully taken shape.

The towns are trying to undermine the village’s elected leaders, to make them appear they are running a clandestine operation.

The towns for years have paid little attention to the village, despite village residents accounting for about half the population in the two towns.

Village residents pay a $16.45 village tax rate. If you have a $70,000 house, that is a crushing tax bill for about $1,150 in June. The village residents also get hit with a town tax bill in January. The Ridgeway rate is $3.10 per $1,000 and Shelby taxes village residents at a $3.42 rate.

Village residents also pay a $23.85 rate to the school district, a $10.11 rate to the county and a $1.30 rate to the library. The combined tax burden for village of Medina residents is the highest in the Finger Lakes region.

The Village Board is trying to do something about a tax burden that overwhelms many residents, the senior citizens on fixed incomes and families trying to live in Medina.

The Town Boards owe it to the community to weigh in with solutions and ideas for reducing that tax burden. That would make for a lively Facebook page.