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Ridgeway ‘not interested’ in Medina’s dissolution plan

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 August 2013 at 12:00 am

MEDINA – The consulting firm that is working with Medina to prepare a dissolution plan for the village shouldn’t expect much assistance from the town of Ridgeway.

“We’re really not interested,” said Brian Napoli, the Ridgeway town supervisor. “We’ve never been consulted. They formed a committee and we were never asked or consulted.”

The village received a $50,000 state grant to work on a dissolution plan, a document that is required by law before the village can hold a public referendum on whether or not to dissolve the village government.

The plan would identify how village government functions could best be assumed by the towns of Ridgeway and Shelby, or perhaps through new special taxing districts or water and sewer authorities.

The Center for Governmental Research is working with Medina on the plan. CGR staff sent letters to Ridgeway and Shelby, requesting documents on budgets and town staffing and equipment resources. CGR would also like to interview staff and officials from the two towns to discuss how they could absorb some of the functions currently provided by the village.

Shelby said it is willing to meet with CGR, but Napoli turned down the organization’s initial request.

“This is a village project so why do we need to use town money and resources for it?” Napoli said. “We were never consulted, but now that they’re doing it, they expect us to jump in and solve it.”

Medina Mayor Andrew Meier said both towns knew for months that Medina applied for the dissolution grant. Napoli and Shelby Town Supervisor Skip Draper also have been part of a shared services discussion for the past couple years among the three municipalities.

Napoli said CGR can submit specific requests for information, and the town will comply, much as it has to with the Freedom of Information Act. But he doesn’t want open-ended requests that would send town employees on a time-consuming “fishing expedition.”

Meier said he wants the town feedback on the plan so the best options can be presented to voters and municipal leaders.

“There are a range of options,” he said. “It’s not one-size-fits-all.”

If the village puts a dissolution to a vote and its supported by village residents, Napoli said Ridgeway and Shelby don’t necessarily have to follow the plan. They can determine their own course of action for assuming village functions. Napoli thinks special taxing districts would be created for police, fire protection and village debt.

Medina’s sewer plant is in Ridgeway. Napoli doesn’t expect the town would just take over the plant in a village dissolution. He said a water and sewer authority could be created to own and manage those assets.

“If you dissolve the village, the only thing that goes away is the signs,” Napoli said. “The village debts have to stay with the village. A lot of the stuff provided by the village would stay with special taxing districts.”

Meier said a committee will complete a dissolution plan with CGR’s assistance. He wants to give residents a chance to remove one layer of local government, which he believes will reduce taxes for village residents, making the community more attractive for residents and businesses.

He would like Ridgeway to be an active participant in developing the plan.

“It’s in the best interests of their constituents that they (town officials) remain in contact throughout this process,” Meier said. “We’ve asked for their participation repeatedly.”

Medina officials expect the plan will take six to nine months to prepare. Dissolution should go to a public vote next year.