MEDINA – The committee crafting a plan for the dissolution of the Village of Medina completed its work Thursday, approving a plan to send to the Village Board.
The committee was appointed last year and spent roughly nine months with the Center for Governmental Research in its efforts. The draft of the plan was presented in a public information session last month where opinions expressed both for and against dissolution drew applause.
Before voting Thursday, each committee member said the ultimate goal in the community should remain consolidation into one municipality, which would also mean merging of the towns of Ridgeway and Shelby.
The towns are located adjacent to each other, and the Village of Medina straddles the town line. The village’s population of 6,000 is nearly evenly split between the two entities.
“Dissolving the village is a necessary first step toward consolidation,” said committee member Thurston Dale. “Everything points toward consolidation into one being the best alternative.”
Charlie Slack, another committee member, said the feedback he received in the wake of the public meeting seemed to be based on a misconception that all taxpayers would see an increase in their bills.
“Looking at the minutes of the meeting ... a lot of people got that impression,” he said.
According to the plan, though, the greatest impact would be a decrease in village taxes. Currently, a resident of the village pays taxes to Medina and either Ridgeway or Shelby. The tax rate within the village is nearly $20 per $1,000 of assessed value. Should the village residents vote to dissolve, savings would be slightly more than $6 per $1,000.
For town residents outside the village, there would be an increase. In Ridgeway, the tax rate would jump from its current $6.71 per $1,000 to $9.83. Shelby would see a lesser bump, from $8.36 to $9.17. The bulk of the village’s infrastructure is in Ridgeway, hence the larger increase.
Slack said that the plan was sound and that “we did the best job we could do given the facts.” He added, “I’m happy to vote in favor of this and let the people have a vote.”
Committee member Cindy Robinson shared some concern about the effect dissolution talks have had on the community. Specifically, she said a number of people told her they were scared about a 46 percent tax increase in the Town of Ridgeway. Having the percentage without the hard numbers left people skeptical, she said.
“When I explained to them the benefits of having one entity, many seemed to be on board, but unfortunately this discussion led to a lot of fighting among friends,” Robinson stated.
“I think consolidation is the best way to go, but if it goes to a vote and is voted down, we have to wait four years to bring it up again, and I don’t think we should wait four years – we need to do something sooner.”
Robinson added that the next step should include “an honest discussion between the village and the towns” so that the best interests of the community are served.
Medina Mayor Andrew Meier also served on the committee, and he said it’s tough to determine exactly how the majority feels about dissolution. He said that of the village residents who spoke at the hearing, a third were against it; a third were for it; and the final third were looking for more information and questioning details.
Committee Chairman Don Colquhoun said the plan achieved all of its goals. Those goals included dissolving the village, maintaining the current level of services and minimizing any loss of jobs. He said it is up to the Village Board to adopt or modify the plan as presented.
It is anticipated that the Village Board will receive the dissolution plan as early as its next meeting June 23. After that, the board may hold at least one public hearing on the issue. Ultimately, if the board votes to put the dissolution plan up for a referendum, only village residents may cast a ballot.