The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

January 11, 2013

Snow plow costs eyed

By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — SHELBY — The committee examining potential shared services between Medina, Shelby and Ridgeway now has clearer information about a cost-shift that would impact tax rates for residents of all three municipalities.

At Monday’s gathering of elected officials, Shelby Supervisor Skip Draper explained the financial impact of recalculating how the costs for town snowplowing services are charged to village and non-village residents. Specifically, he was tasked with examining what would happen if village residents were not charged for the plowing of non-village streets.

According to Draper, Shelby’s snowplowing service had a net cost of $123,000 in 2012, an expense that is levied to taxpayers through both the town-wide and town-outside-of-the-village tax rates (the cost is split the same way in Ridgeway).

If that expense was levied only on residents who pay into the town-outside-of-the-village fund, taxpayers who live in the town and the village would see their town tax rate decrease by $0.60, while residents of only the town would pay $0.91 more per $1,000 in assessed value.

In Ridgeway, villagers would see a $1.23 reduction in their town tax rate; while residents of the town outside the village would see their rate increase by $0.90. The larger shift is due to Ridgeway’s annual contribution to a reserve fund used to purchase new snow removal equipment.

Village Mayor Andrew Meier said the reducing the total tax rate paid by villagers for snowplowing — village residents also fund the village’s snowplowing operation — would address what he described as a “fundamental unfairness.”

”This would remove a double tax that would go a long way for village residents, who pay for a service they don’t receive,” Meier said. “Reducing villagers’ town tax rates by $1.23 or $0.60 would be a huge decrease without changing any services.”

Draper noted that the cost-shift is much smaller when compared to the overall total tax paid by residents of the towns and the village. It also would not eliminate the cost.

”I think there was an impression that it has a bigger impact on the tax rate than it does,” Draper said. “It’s not a silver bullet.”

Village and town officials said they were unsure how the cost-shifting could be implemented, but it seems likely that the 2014 town budget process would be the first opportunity to shift the costs of the service.

There was agreement that simply compiling the information was a positive step towards addressing a perennial source of bitterness. At previous meetings of the committee, both town and village officials argued that the plowing of one municipality’s roads is a beneficial activity due to residential and commercial traffic flowing through all three entities.

”Plowing was an issue 30 years ago,” former Mayor Marcia Tuohey said. “It should be put to rest, either way.”

The committee will resume its discussions at 7 p.m. Feb. 4 in the Shelby Town Hall.

Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.