Medina Dissolution called important first step in reducing village taxes
“Unless we unify and fix our tax problem once and for all we will miss the boat. This is our one bite at the apple, at meaningful reform perhaps in our entire generation.”
– Medina Mayor Andrew Meier
MEDINA – The Medina community has so much potential with the renaissance in its business district, a rich heritage, architecture and close proximity to the STAMP manufacturing site in the town of Alabama, said Mayor Andrew Meier.
However, all of that potential is threatened by a combined tax rate that is the highest in the Finger Lakes region, Meier said today during a press conference at City Hall.
Meier has been leading the push to dissolve the village government. It would effectively put him out of a job as an elected official. But Meier sees removing the village government as a critical first step in reducing that tax burden that drives out investment and oppresses many senior citizens, families and businesses.
“We have many seniors and families in this community that struggle to get by and we owe them our best efforts in putting together a solid plan,” Meier said about the village dissolution.
He is part of a Dissolution Committee that today voted to support a plan that would cut village taxes by 25 to 34 percent, and raise them 46 percent for Ridgeway residents outside the village and 10 percent for Shelby residents outside the village.
The dissolution would cut about $6 off that combined tax rate for village residents who are currently the highest taxed in the region.
“Unless we unify and fix our tax problem once and for all we will miss the boat,” Meier said. “This is our one bite at the apple, at meaningful reform perhaps in our entire generation. It’s why we forged ahead today.”
Meier is part of a new “One Medina” effort that is led by local attorney Nathan Pace. He was chairman of a committee that studied the benefits of consolidating the two towns and the village into one entity in 2010 and 2011. That committee recommended the dissolution of the village followed by the merger of the two towns.
“If Medina decides to dissolve we have to make some hard decisions,” Pace told reporters today. “Sometimes when you’re faced with difficult decisions you have an opportunity to do something good.”
He is chairman of the One Medina effort and welcomes Ridgeway and Shelby officials to join the effort. They can follow the dissolution plan from the committee or weigh in with ideas to make it better.
The Dissolution Committee will have a public meeting on 7 p.m. on May 6 to take questions from the public. (The location hasn’t been determined yet.)
The Committee may tweak the plan depending on the public comments. The Village Board will then get the plan and may hold hearings and could make changes. Village residents could vote on the issue in a public referendum this year, Meier said.
The Dissolution Committee and Village Board are eyeing Jan. 1, 2017 for the dissolution to take effect. That gives the towns at least two years to prepare for the dissolution of the village.
“We have to step forward,” Pace said. “With ‘One Medina,’ the intent is to pull together the good people of Ridgeway, Shelby and the village and sit down at the table and solve this problem together. If the village is going to dissolve, we need a plan.”
Pace said Medina isn’t going away with a dissolution. The community will continue to have the same Medina zip code, school district and post office.
“If the village of Medina dissolves and the town of Ridgeway and town of Shelby do not do something unifying us together then we have missed history,” Pace said. “We really will miss the boat. There is so much to gain by sitting down and working out something together.”
The Dissolution Committee wanted to preserve existing services and village jobs, said Don Colquhoun, the committee chairman.
“We were concerned about what would happen to people,” he said. “We built a plan where everyone would be accommodated.”
Meier and ‘One Medina’ want to see the two towns consolidate. If that happens the reduced operating costs and state incentives for a merger should offset the increased taxes from the village dissolution for residents outside the village, Meier said.
He urged residents in the towns and village to study the facts in the issue and voice their concerns.
“This is an opportunity to take our community and our government to the next level,” Meier said at the press conference. “It will involve engagement from the public.”
One Medina has a web site: onemedina.com.