The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

February 6, 2013

Towns balk at village proposals

By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — SHELBY — Little progress towards cooperation was made Monday at the monthly shared services meeting between municipal leaders, as the discussions swung back towards disputing which municipality must act first for the big decisions to be properly made.

The main focus of the meeting was the distribution of snow plowing service costs and the delivery methods for that service in Medina, Ridgeway and Shelby. The committee has wrestled with the topic in recent months, with a hardening disagreement between the village and the towns over the need for change.

Last month, Shelby Supervisor Skip Draper reviewed an estimate of the tax rate changes for village and town residents if Shelby and Ridgeway did not levy snow plowing taxes town-wide.

This month, he revealed information about the legality of the towns removing those costs from village residents.

”An exemption can be done by resolution, but it had to be done on an annual basis,” explained Draper.

But while it is possible for the town to exclude village residents from contributing to the costs of town snow plowing operations, both Draper and Ridgeway Supervisor Brian Napoli said they saw no rationale for doing so before more extensive options are considered by the village.

Namely, the supervisors said they’d like to see Medina follow through on a proposed study of village dissolution. That would detail what would happen if the towns had to take over highway services within the village.

”We have to compare that to cost of (the village eliminating snow plowing services) to see what’s most favorable to the taxpayers,” Draper said. “To take one option without considering other options ... is foolish.”

Medina Mayor Andrew Meier contended that the review would be “starting from scratch,” as it was not explored in the previous consolidation committee’s report.

Medina would be willing to look into such a study, but Meier noted that issues like department of public works employees being idle during the winter months would need to be addressed.

”I think the only option (in that scenario) would be layoffs and I don’t see the cost savings,” Meier said.

The mayor pulled no punches in his assessment of the town’s thinking, which he said maintains a “repulsive” level of taxation on village residents.

”I think this is the recipe for the status quo,” Meier said.

Last month’s projections had taxpayers in the Ridgeway half of the village paying $1.23 less in town taxes per $1,000 in assessed value —Ridgeway’s town outside village taxpayers would pay $0.90 more — if villagers were excluded from snow plow costs. Taxpayers in the Shelby half of the village would pay $0.60 less, with Shelby’s town outside village taxpayers paying $0.91 more.

• The story was largely the same in the discussions of a shared fire safety inspection service, with a village-initiated proposal being rejected by the towns.

All three municipalities use their codes enforcement officers to perform the state-required safety checks of residential and commercial buildings. Medina’s proposal would have the village take over the service, but the town’s balked.

”We aren’t interested in pursuing this,” Napoli said. “You’d have to hire another person — where are the cost savings?”

Meier said that the added position would not be needed.

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