Vote on Medina dissolution unlikely for next village election in March

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 August 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – A committee looking at developing a plan for the dissolution of the village of Medina met for the first time on Thursday at City Hall. A group of village residents is working with the Center for Governmental Research to develop the plan. The group includes, from lower left going clockwise: Paul Bishop and Scott Sittig of CGR, Medina Mayor Andrew Meier, Village Trustee Mark Irwin, Committee Chairman Don Colquhoun, and members Charlie Slack and Thurston Dale.

MEDINA – A public referendum about dissolving the village of Medina’s government probably won’t be ready in time for the March 2014 village elections due to a tight time frame to develop an orderly plan for the village’s dissolution.

“Let’s take our time to come up with a plan that we can all consider and accept,” Mayor Andrew Meier said during the Dissolution Committee’s first meeting Thursday. “I see no reason why to go through an expedited process.”

Medina is using a $50,000 state grant to hire the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester to help prepare the plan. There is a chance CGR and the committee could have the plan fall quickly into place, and possibly be ready for a public vote in March. But Meier and committee aren’t pushing for that as a time frame.

“We need to give the public time to chew it over,” said Don Colquhoun, chairman of the Dissolution Committee.

A public referendum can’t come sooner than about three months after the Village Board formally endorses a dissolution. That gives time for the public to study the plan and make an informed vote.

In order for the dissolution to be part of the March 18 village election, the Village Board would need to endorse a dissolution plan in December to allow for three months of public review before a vote.

Meier expects the village will call for a special election on the issue later in the year.

CGR has a lot of work to do with data collection and interviews with village officials and representatives from the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway. CGR needs to take an inventory of village assets and debts. The group will present a plan for how the debts will be paid if the village dissolves, and how current village services can best be folded into the two towns.

To pay off some debts, some village assets could be sold, including highway equipment and buildings, such as the historic but mostly underutilized City Hall.

Some services, such as police and fire, may continue with the formation of special taxing districts. The committee will look at which government entity would own the village’s water and sewer plants, and how those services can best be provided if the village dissolves.

Colquhoun, the committee chairman, said the group is determined to continue with the process, to look for ways to reduce the costs of government in the community while still maintaining services. The study may show it doesn’t make sense to dissolve Medina. He is going in with an open mind, not committed to dissolution.

“We don’t want to disrupt everyone’s lives,” he said. “But let’s see the data. I think people need to know the alternatives. Everyone complains about their taxes and says there’s nothing you can do about it. This is something we can do about it.”

If the issue goes to a public vote, only village residents will go to the polls. Residents in Shelby and Ridgeway, outside the village, don’t get a vote, but they can participate in the planning process.