By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — A week after passing another budget that raised property taxes, the Orleans County Legislature agreed to make an investment that county and village officials hope will combat declining property values, another culprit behind rising tax rates.
The County Legislature unanimously approved moving $20,000 in the planning department’s budget to the Orleans County Land Restoration Corporation for investment in environmental evaluations and remediation of blighted properties.
County and village governments and maintenance crews cooperated this year in a handful of tear-downs of dangerously deteriorating buildings, but the new agreement would put the execution of projects in the hands of the OCLRC.
The move expands the corporation’s scope from focusing on industrial properties to looking at deteriorating residential properties in the county’s four villages. Legislature Chairman David Callard said the distressed properties in residential neighborhoods provide an opportunity for growth and development that has not been achieved through other means.
”We have eliminated some (blighted housing), but there are some areas where we might be better off doing remediation,” Callard said.
The agreement has the support of Medina Mayor Andrew Meier and Albion Mayor Dean Theodorakos, whose municipalities have both seen the removal of some blighted housing, but not all of it.
”The next step is restoration of the “hard core” abandoned properties,” Theodorakos said. “These are the ones we need help with.”
Theodorakos said there are six to eight properties that have repeatedly appeared in the county’s tax foreclosure auction while continuing to fall deeper into disrepair.
He believes having the OCLRC (which handles projects like the remediation that preceded Brunner Inc.’s expansion in Medina) take on those projects would be a better way to tackle issues like asbestos abatement.
”This gets the land in the hands of someone with the resources to get the properties back on the tax rolls,” Theodorakos said.
Local governments will continue to hold discussions on potential opportunities despite the OCLRC’s increased role.
”This provides us the tools to address blighted properties,” Meier said. “If we fix these properties it improves our communities and our tax bases.”
• Callard announced a reshuffling of various legislators’ positions on business development boards due to Legislator Bill Eick becoming the county government’s representative in the ongoing development of a county historical museum.
As a result, Eick is resigning his position on the Orleans County Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors at the end of this month. That spot will be filled by Legislator George Bower, who moves up from a spot on the EDA’s Local Development Corporation; Legislator Don Allport will replace Bower.
Eick joins a group of community leaders and local organizations working toward selecting a site and operating structure for the proposed museum, which Callard said should be finished by the end of next year.
• The legislature approved apportioning $1.3 million in sales tax revenues to the county’s 14 municipalities. The Village of Medina will receive the highest portion — $224,603.85 — with the Town of Ridgeway receiving $82,588.99 and the Town of Shelby receiving $68,399.41.
• The agreement between The Village of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center and Gillick Advisors to manage the county nursing home was extended through Oct. 1, 2013.
• Election Commissioners Janice Grabowski and Dennis Piedimonte were both re-appointed after receiving recommendations to do so from the county’s Democratic and Republican committees.
• Orleans and Genesee counties, which previously agreed to have a Shared Public Health Director and a Shared Environmental Health Director/Deputy Public Health Director, will also share a Director of Patient Services.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.