Petition submitted to force referendum on Medina dissolution

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 October 2014 at 12:00 am

Vote could be set for sometime in January-February

MEDINA – An issue that has been studied and debated for more than two years looks like it will finally go to village voters.

Three members of the “One Medina” grassroots group submitted petitions on Thursday to force a public vote on whether the village government should dissolve. The petitions were signed by 432 people and were presented to Village Clerk Debbie Padoleski. She has 10 days to determine if the petition will be certified.

She will check to make sure the people who signed are registered voters. She also is reviewing the list of eligible registered voters in the village. The petition must have at least 10 percent of the registered voters to force the referendum.

Padoleski said there are about 3,000 eligible voters in the village, but she will make sure in the coming days. The 432 signatures, demanding a vote on village dissolution, gives the advocates for a public vote a cushion in case some of the signatures are declared invalid.

The petitions were submitted on Thursday by three leaders of One Medina: Ed Weider and two former village trustees, Jim Lustumbo and David Barhite.

“The big thing is we want the people to have the right to vote on it,” Barhite said today.

If the petitions are certificed by Padoleski, the Village Board is required to set a public vote within 30 days of Padoleski’s decision. The vote must occur within 60 to 90 days of the Village Board setting a vote for the issue. That time frame would put a vote in January or February.

A committee already studied how the village government could be dissolved and its services picked up by the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway, or through a local development corporation, a non-profit corporation (for ambulance services) and also a debt district.

That dissolution plan was endorsed by a dissolution committee in April. Some community members formed “One Medina” to push for dissolution of the village with a goal of then merging the two towns.

The Village Board hasn’t set a public vote on dissolution after some village trustees wanted to give the two towns another chance at shared services and some consolidation of services. Those talks have focused on highway services but have got bogged down. A meeting set for last week was cancelled.

The citizen referendum wants resolution on the issue, and wants the public to have its say, Barhite said.

Barhite believes the village property owners bear too much of the cost of government services for the community. A dissolution plan would cut village taxes by 27 to 34 percent, and raise town taxes 46 percent for Ridgeway residents outside the village and 10 percent for Shelby residents outside the village.

According to the dissolution plan, a village dissolution would cut about $6 off that combined tax rate for village residents who are currently the highest taxed in the region.

Village residents would see a drop ranging from 27 percent in Ridgeway to 34 percent in Shelby. The rate in Ridgeway would drop from $19.49 per $1,000 of assessed property to a projected $14.30, according to the plan. That $5.20 reduction would save a homeowner with a $70,000 house $363 a year in taxes. (The rate includes village and town tax rates.)

Village residents in Shelby currently pay a combined $19.80 rate ($16.45 to the village and $3.35 to the town). That would drop 34 percent to $13.10 and would cut the tax bills from $1,386 for a $70,000 house to $917.

The Ridgeway residents outside the village currently pay a $6.71 rate for town, lighting and fire protection. That would rise 46 percent to $9.83 if the village dissolves and services are picked up according to the plan.

Shelby residents would see a 10 percent increase with dissolution with the current rate for outside-village residents going from $8.36 per $1,000 of assessed property to $9.17. That would raise taxes for a $70,000 home from $585 to $642.

Both Shelby and Ridgeway town officials have questioned the numbers in the plan and said they aren’t obligated to follow it.