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Medina sets Jan. 20 for dissolution vote

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 October 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Medina Mayor Andrew Meier listens during a discussion at tonight’s Village Board meeting. He is joined by Village Trustee Mike Sidari.

MEDINA – Village residents will get their say on whether or not there will be a village government during a public referendum set for Jan. 20.

The Village Board voted tonight to set the date for the referendum. That followed an Oct. 23 decision by Village Clerk Debbie Padoleski to certify a petition circulated by members of “One Medina,” which wants to see the village government dissolved and the towns of Ridgeway and Shelby merged into one entity.

The dissolution move has been about three years in process since the village and two towns first formed a committee to look at the how to best streamline government services and reduce the cost of government in the community. A committee then suggested village dissolution and a town merger.

The issue on Jan. 20 will focus on the village dissolution and only village residents will be eligible to vote from noon to 9 p.m. at the Senior Center. (Absentee ballots will also be available.)

After Padoleski certified the petitions, the Village Board had 30 days to set a public referendum. That public vote had to fall within a minimum of 60 days and a maximum of 90 days from when the board sets the vote.

Village Trustee Mark Irwin made the motion to set the referendum date. He said the vote 20 days after New Year’s Day “gives both sides a chance to make their case.”

Mayor Andrew Meier has been pushing dissolution, even though it will cost him his job as mayor. He sees it as a best course for the community’s future, by narrowing the tax burden between current village residents and those outside the village in the two towns.

Residents with a house assessed at $70,000 can save about $1,000 a year in taxes if they move outside the village and live in the two towns. Meier wants to reduce the tax incentive for residents and businesses to locate outside the village.

Ridgeway Town Councilwoman Mary Woodruff said dissolution would just be a tax shift to the two towns. She urged the Village Board to educate the public about possible scenarios and tax impacts with the dissolution.

Village Trustee Mark Kruzynski said the public referendum will simply be on whether or not the village government should be dissolved. The vote won’t get into the specifics of a dissolution plan. A planin April was presented by a committee that worked with a consultant, the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester.

That plan would preserve the police and fire departments and other village services. However, officials from the two towns have said Shelby and Ridgeway aren’t obligated to follow that plan.

A potential loss of services worries some residents, including Trustee Marguerite Sherman.

“Residents need to know once it’s gone, it’s gone,” she said about dissolution.

The village would continue for about two more years, even if residents vote to dissolve it. That will give time for an orderly transition to the two towns, and perhaps to form a local development corporation or public authority for some services.

“Medina will still be Medina even if it ceases to be a village,” Irwin said. “The village won’t just vaporize.”

He cited examples of Charlotte in Rochester and La Salle in Niagara Falls, communities that kept their identities even when their village governments faded away.

Woodruff is a village resident and she said she likes having local representatives to share her concerns.

“I want my voice in the government,” she told the board.

She also said the two towns don’t plan on working towards a consolidation.

Ed Weider helped circulate the petitions to get dissolution on the ballot. He addressed the Village Board tonight and said the community should look at the issue as a “reorganization plan.”

“The village won’t just go away with a flip of the switch,” he said. “It will take two years to reorganize and that will require a great deal of cooperation.”