Medina Journal-Register — Officials from Medina, Shelby and Ridgeway were in sharp disagreement about the steps the other municipalities could take to reduce costs. But they agreed to continue meeting to hash out what needs to happen as all three municipalities look to share more services or potentially consolidate into a larger entity.
There was little consensus between the 13 board members that sat in front of a crowd of about two dozen municipal employees and residents at the Shelby Town Hall.
The group discussed immediate steps that can be taken to reduce the costs of local government. Multiple ideas were thrown out to members of other boards, but they were received with scowls and recriminations.
Town officials said their hands would be forced if the village decides to dissolve as a municipal entity. In that scenario, as in Seneca Falls, duties and services would fall on the town governments to provide or decide to cut.
”I don’t think our board views our task as having a lot of say unless the village dissolves,” Shelby Supervisor Skip Draper said. “The towns and village have shared services in the past, we can start working on that now ... with or without another study or a dissolution.”
Medina Mayor Andrew Meier said it’s too early to say whether the village will take the option of dissolving and that his municipality is burdened by taxation from the towns for services that are also provided by the village — like snow plowing.
”There’s things the towns can do to give relief to the village,” he said.
But town officials said the village hasn’t made enough effort to reign in costs, which would cause problems if there was a consolidation.
”You’re neglecting to figure out your long-term debt,” Shelby Councilman Kenneth Schaal said to Meier.
Schaal said the village should consider creating a fire district to remove the costs of the Medina Fire Department from the village tax rate. Meier countered that such a move would only shift the costs of the service. Schaal responded that aside from revenues from cut jobs and state aid enticements, that would be the result of a dissolution. They continued on that path for a while, finally disagreeing on whether the conversation was contentious.
Officials from all three municipalities said they would focus on larger issues at the next meeting — scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug.7 at the Shelby Town Hall.
”We can’t continue to spend time picking at one another,” Ridgeway Councilman Jeffrey Toussaint said.
Before they got done to debating where the others could cut, the assembled officials spoke with Seneca Falls Supervisor Don Earle, who answered questions about the situation he inherited when he took office just as the village within his town dissolved.
His comments ran at times in opposition to the message delivered last week by a pair of officials from the former village of Seneca Falls, but in most cases matched the descriptions given by former mayor Diana Smith and former village administrator Connie Sowards. Earle said he hasn’t seen his tax bill yet, but had seen the presentation that Smith and Sowards have made for multiple municipalities and government groups.
Earle said claims that the tax reductions from their dissolution were borne through a $3 million annual landfill benefit and that the town’s resources were “overwhelmed” by added responsibilities were “not supported by the facts.”
”There were things ... that were not known or prepared for,” Earle said. “But on the large scale it’s been seamless.”