The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

August 2, 2013

Starting point

Village-appointed Dissolution Plan Committee meets for first time with consultants

By HOWARD BALABAN howard.balaban@journal-register.com
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — Medina’s Village Dissolution Plan Committee met for the first time Thursday afternoon to determine exactly how it should proceed.

The six-member committee has been appointed by the Medina Village Board. Don Colquhoun is the chair of the committee as well as one of two members on the committee (along with Charlie Slack) who helped with the study done two years ago which ultimately led to Medina, Ridgeway, and Shelby having a series of meetings to determine how to best share services. 

The committee also includes longtime village resident Thurston Dale, Mayor Andrew Meier, Deputy Mayor Mark Irwin and Medina Business Association President Cindy Robinson.

Thursday’s meeting was informational and directorial in nature, as the committee met with the consulting group hired to help determine whether dissolution is truly a viable option.

The group - the Center for Government Research - had two representatives in attendance. Scott Sittig, the project director and Paul Bishop, the project manager. 

Sittig, who also was part of the previous study, said he was “pretty familiar” with what has been done in Medina in the past.

“We’re looking to lay out the plan going forward,” he said. “Our perspective is that a lot of the work has already been done. We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel.”

Sittig added, though, that there is new data to collect since things have changed in the past two years that could present different options to consider.

He pointed out that the Village Dissolution Plan Committee’s ultimate goal should only be to create a plan and present it to the village board. “There is no expectation after that,” Sittig said.

In creating the plan, Sittig suggested “two parallel tracks” be made. The first should be a plan to simply dissolve the village, and the second should be a three-municipality consolidation. The second option, he said, “might be in the best interest of everybody at the table.”

Sittig said he has already contacted officials in both Ridgeway and Shelby. He said he did so because any three-municipality consolidation plan created by the committee would need information from the towns, and so far he said Shelby was more open to the process than Ridgeway.

Irwin, in hearing that, said the committee’s “best bet” would be to create an independent plan. He also said the previous study’s best option was to merge the three entities and make a city.

“There is no city in Orleans County, and if we managed to do that we’d be the same size as Batavia or Lockport and treated differently (by the state),” Irwin said. 

Slack agreed that gaining city-status “was the best road” but he also noted how it was “not the quickest.”

The committee and the consultants further discussed the committee’s goals and noted how in most similar cases, there is only one town involved. However, it is a still a village decision to make. What makes the decision unique, they agreed, is that two towns are involved with a 50-50 split in population.

Dale said he had heard some people wonder if the village was considering dissolution strictly to get out of debt, but both Meier and Irwin assured him that is not the case. Meier added that there might be a way to dissolve the village to not have town residents affected by any outstanding village debt.

Sittig and Bishop asked the committee to determine how it will make decisions going forward, and they suggested some form of public relations would important so the people affected are kept abreast of the information.

Once the village receives, and endorses, any committee-recommended plan, a timeline begins, Bishop added. The timeline includes public hearings and a could include a vote. The committee members agreed they should not rush the process and want to make sure nothing submitted to the board is “forced” through to completion.

All present were sure to mention that there is no guarantee a village dissolution plan will go as far as public vote.

For the foreseeable future, the committee will meet as needed, with no set date for its next meeting scheduled.