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County: Delay further salary talks

June 26, 2013 The OBSERVER Save | Comments (1) | Post a comment |

Chautauqua County legislators are not expected to take up the Salary Review Commission’s proposal during its meeting tonight, according to WDOE. That’s a good thing.

But it needs to go one step further – do not look at the fairy tale plan, which includes raises of nearly 30 percent, again. Do not look at it until there has been some drastic change to the county in terms of business, development, economics and population. When those pieces start to show an improvement – not a decline – then look to give elected officials raises.

Name an accomplishment by any elected official over recent years when businesses have exited the county as well as residents?

Finding funds to clean and maintain the lake is not one of them. That’s a gift from the state. How about magically finding $10 million in funds last year? Another gift.

What about the complaints about state mandates? Complaining is what some politicians do too well.

Our county’s population has dipped to under 134,000 residents. In 1980, it was 150,000. How do you justify nearly 30 percent raises to county officials when all we have seen is decline in the last three decades?

This, ultimately, is how you know government leaders are out of touch.

Salary increases off agenda

June 26, 2013 By LIZ SKOCZYLAS  – OBSERVER Mayville Bureau , Save | Post a comment |

MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County Legislature will not be discussing salary increases during its monthly meeting today.

Despite four local laws establishing salary levels for elected officials being on the agenda, it was announced the laws will not be discussed. According to an email from Kathy Tampio, legislative clerk, the purpose for the change in the agenda is to enable further review and analysis by all members of the legislature.

Legislative Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville, made the decision to pull the local laws off the agenda.

“There hasn’t been enough debate on (the local laws). There must be a better way,” Gould said. “Maybe there ought to be another way, other than a citizen’s committee, such as a cost-of-living every year, or every two years or something. (The local laws) weren’t enacted in (2008) and they won’t be enacted in (2013)

more…

Read more on our OCDB Issues page here.

“Minority Leader Robert Whitney, D-Jamestown, said he did not see a problem with the proposed increase to salaries.”

…report that recommends 28.8 percent pay raises for the county executive and county clerk and raises for the legislature that result in paying more for a 19 member legislature than a 25 member legislature. Are they joking? Surely, there must be a better recommendation coming, right? For starters, commission members recommend a $3,000 base pay increase to legislators. That increase, if approved, would increase the total base pay from $225,000 for a 25 member legislature to $228,000 for a 19 member legislature…

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Oh but we must reduce the size of the legislature to save tax payers money! Having gone from 25 seats to 19 @ $9000/each we will save $54,000/year. Oh wait this is only the first year for that, we haven’t saved a dime yet, and already it’s being suggested that those savings be reversed, and then some? Outrageous!

Salary Suggestions Are Ludicrous

June 16, 2013 The Post-Journal Save | Comments (5) | Post a comment |

Should elected officials in Chautauqua County receive pay raises?

It’s an interesting question that receives no consideration in a series of recommendations handed up from the county’s Salary Review Commission to the Chautauqua County Legislature. The recommendations will be discussed this week by county legislators during committee meetings, including the Administrative Services Committee at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Not answering the question of the raises’ necessity is the commission’s first mistake, but it is far from the last one it makes in a report that recommends 28.8 percent pay raises for the county executive and county clerk and raises for the legislature that result in paying more for a 19 member legislature than a 25 member legislature.

Are they joking? Surely, there must be a better recommendation coming, right?

For starters, commission members recommend a $3,000 base pay increase to legislators. That increase, if approved, would increase the total base pay from $225,000 for a 25 member legislature to $228,000 for a 19 member legislature. Plus, the commission’s report seems to say legislators should be paid more because legislators no longer receive health insurance, a perk that was eliminated in 2010 at a savings of between $140,000 and $160,000. It is also a perk that many current legislators never received and its inclusion in the commission’s report is illogical.

The commission’s flawed thinking continues when it comes to the county executive, clerk and sheriff pay raises. Commission members reviewed Consumer Price Index information for the past 10 years and added up the inflation rate from 2003 to 2013. That number, 28.8 percent, was then used to determine the raises for the county executive, county clerk and county sheriff. The county executive would go from earning $85,000 to $109,480 while the clerk will go from $53,000 to $68,264. Because the sheriff’s salary has been increased over the years, the commission is recommending an increase from $82,500 to $87,450, the lower of the salary ranges it discussed.

Legislator John Runkle, R-Gerry and Audit and Control Committee chairman, has already gone on the record saying he doesn’t think any elected official should receive a pay increase right now. We trust his fellow legislators will follow his lead and oppose these ridiculous recommendations.

As a taxpayer, when was the last time you received a 28.8 percent pay increase? When was the last time you last received a county property tax increase? Honest answers to those questions put the outlandish report from the Salary Review Commission in perspective.

Dollars And Sense

Salary Review Committee Recommendations Receive Mixed Reviews From Legislators

June 15, 2013 By Liz Skoczylas (lskoczylas@post-journal.com) , Save | Comments (1) | Post a comment |

MAYVILLE – Salary recommendations for elected officials will be discussed next week, and already legislators are expressing mixed feelings.

As per the county charter, a citizen’s review committee is charged with making recommendations regarding salaries of elected officials. The committee meets prior to November elections to review the salaries of similar elected officials in other counties throughout the state, in order to compare them to those in Chautauqua County. The Salary Review Committee recently wrapped up meetings, and turned its recommendations in to the legislature to be voted on.

Monday, the Administrative Services Committee will be the first to review the recommendations. Thursday, the Audit and Control Committee will also review the recommendations.

The Salary Review Committee recommended that, as of Jan. 1, 2014, base salary for legislators increase from $9,000 to $12,000 per year. It also recommended the chairman of the legislature receive an additional $8,000; majority and minority leaders an additional $1,000; assistant majority and minority leaders an additional $500; each committee chairman an additional $1,000; and each ranking member of committees an additional $250.

For the county executive position, the committee recommended an annual salary of $109,480, effective Jan. 1, 2014. According to seethroughny.net, County Executive Greg Edwards received a salary of $85,000 in 2012.

The committee recommended that the county clerk position salary be $68,264, beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Sandy Sopak, current county clerk, received a salary of $53,640 in 2011, according to seethroughny.net.

The committee also recommended an increase for the position of county sheriff. In 2011, Sheriff Joseph Gerace received a salary of $83,740, according to seethroughny.net. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, the Salary Review Committee recommended a salary of $87,450.

“What the committee did on three of them, were cost of living since the last time they got a raise. That’s what they did on the county executive, clerk and the sheriff,” said Legislative Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville. “On legislative recommendations they took, I believe, half the money they saved from going from 25 to 19 (legislators), and divided that up amongst the 19, because there will be more work.”

The last time the Salary Review Commission met was in 2008, when it made two recommendations. The first recommendation had three parts: The first was that there would be no grandfathering of existing salaries or benefits based on longevity of service or current status; the second was regarding health insurance; the third increased legislator salaries from $9,000 to $10,000.

The second recommendation by the committee in 2008 suggested a reduction in the legislature, from 25 to 17 members. Additionally, the recommendation included health insurance changes. It also would increase legislator salaries from $9,000 to $15,000 if the number of legislators was decreased.

“(Last time, the recommendations) were voted down, quite strongly if I recall,” Gould said.

According to Majority Leader Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, legislators have not received a salary increase in many years.

“I don’t know right where I’m standing right now. I do know it has been an awful long time since any of those positions had any salary change, other than the sheriff,” he said. “It’s never a good time, it’s never a popular thing to do, no matter what level you’re at. I do know that our county executive is among, if not, the lowest-paid county executive in New York state. Our county clerk, the same situation.”

Barmore suggested perhaps phasing in salary changes, rather than making them all at once, a matter he said the legislature would have to look at more closely.

Minority Leader Robert Whitney, D-Jamestown, said he did not see a problem with the proposed increase to salaries.

“I know it’s a big jump, but there hasn’t been a jump in how many years?” Whitney asked. “There was a lot of experience on that committee. I’m sure people are going to complain about the recommendations, but then again I don’t see any primaries where everybody’s trying to run now, because it’s such a great deal. So, I guess I don’t have a problem with it. It’s not too late for somebody to jump in if they think it’s a great deal.”

One legislator, though, is being vocal in his opposition to the recommended salary changes.

“While I appreciate the hard work that the commission has done in this matter, I can’t really, in good conscience, support any kind of pay raise for Chautauqua County elected officials,” John Runkle, R-Stockton, told The Post-Journal. “It’s no secret that this county is not thriving economically and jobs are being lost and companies are leaving the area because of high taxes. To suggest such things as 25 percent pay raises for county legislators in such an environment, to me, is just unreasonable. It flies in the face of what we should be doing, and that is cutting taxes and acting in a fiscally-responsible manner.”

A phone call to county executive Greg Edwards was not immediately returned Friday.

The Public Facilities Committee meets Monday at 4 p.m. The Audit and Control Committee meets Thursday at 8:35 a.m. Both committees meet in room 331 of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.

Should county officials who are elected get pay raises?

ChautauquaToday.com

Yes  8.11%

No  86.49%   

Undecided  5%

Should the positions of county exeucitve, legislator and clerk receive a raise?

Post-Journal.com

  1. Yes 15%
  2. No 85%

Read more on our OCDB Issues page here.

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Have you heard that the decision to sell is a no-brainer, we have too, and you bet it is >

1- Does it cost the taxpayers/is it a burden on the taxpayers? You bet it does and is and by no small measure. $14+ million in taxpayer subsidies over the last 1/2 decade and in the hole another $3+ million for next year (and ongoing). This has a dramatic effect on our property taxes.

(Consider this beyond just the current year. If the Home were sold today it would not be only yield a “net” gain for the county coffers of $6+ million, but it would also avert next years $3.3 million loss, and the year after and after and after. Over a decade that’s over a $30 million swing from the bad to the good, and furthermore add in the taxes that would be paid by a private owner of say approx $1 million a year and now it’s $40+ million swing over a decade, and that’s huge!)

(Consider to the arguments we heard not to long ago about reducing the size of the legislature, downsizing, right sizing, limiting county gov, all to save $54k a year and all those remarks by some of the same legislators we have today about savings the tax payers money. That amounted to $ cents folks, yes pennies. With the issue of the Home we are really are talking about size and scope of government and right sizing in a substantial way and not about $ cents but rather $dollars, and a lot of them!)

2- Can a combination of cost savings, revenue enhancements, and union concessions end the taxpayer subsidies (IGT monies=county/fed tax dollar bailouts)? NO, the ad-hoc panel, though union heavy and biased in favor of continuing to run the home as a CSEA unionized government enterprise, proved that. They could not even come close to saving $2.3 million, let alone the $3.3 million actually necessary for the home to be revenue/tax neutral and self-sustaining.

(It should also be noted that CGR themselves never asserted that we could ever achieve enough savings ect. to operate without losses end tax payer subsidies for the home, but rather they only asserted that some of the suggestions could lessen them if that was the course chosen.)

3- The county home as a business model? Well first and foremost it isn’t. The home does not truly compete with any other nursing home due to special rules as a government entity, normally guaranteed taxpayer backed funding, and so on. In the real world when your taking in $20 million in revenues and have $14 million in personnel costs (that’s the present ratio, without IGT subsidy money), it is unsustainable and a failing model.

(To this end we would strongly suggest reading the opinions and position taken by the Chamber of Commerce. They represent 100’s of successful businesses, large and small, union and non-union, many of whom are associated with healthcare, and who are proven business leaders that known what a successful business model truly is.)

4- Well how then can a private sector firm make the home work? They can better control personnel costs, would not be locked into uncontrollable and skyrocketing pension costs for one thing, and that can innovate whereby measures can be taken to enhance revenues that the home is presently limited by law. There are certain services they are not allowed to provide according to state rules but a private sector facility is not limited as such.

5- Quality of care will decline? No, the home is presently an average facility by state standards and a below average facility by national standards. The reality is that quality of care, due to competition, private sector efficiency, and other factors, will actually improve.

(According to Medicare, which rates nursing homes, the highest quality care in our county is provided by for-profit nursing home facilities. more on that in a moment)

6- Current residents will be put out or shipped away to some other home in some far away location? No. It has already been stipulated as part of sale conditions that the new owner of the home will have to keep all existing residents. Once a contract is finalized this will be an iron clad stipulation.

7- Current employees will be put out of a job (and end up on welfare and in the soup lines, yes a union official actually said that!)? Give us a break, No. First of all again there are sale conditions and it will be part of the sale contract that current employees will be offered to retain their job. There will certainly be negotiations, potential retirements incentives for some of the very high paying positions, some changes in benefit structure to be sure (see sign above – facing reality), and the bottom line is most it not all of the workforce will be retained (without the CSEA and their forced unions dues of course). Just think about it, an employee could be paid less and because no union dues deduction, could actually be paid the same. Or an employee could be paid the same, and because no union dues deduction it would be like getting a raise.

(Now on that soup lines comment, how insulting. Union bosses should be ashamed, and union employees should be pissed at such a remark that they are thought so low of. The reality is that these employees are skilled workers with specific training, and even if they were laid off they would likely collect maximum unemployment not welfare, however more likely is that due to their experience they would be hired for a comparable job at one of the many other nursing home operations around the county!)

8- When it comes to personnel cost controls, the non-union administrators are as big a part of the problem as the union employees? No. The home is 98% CSEA and there are a whole 4 people who are non-CSEA. Unlike the union employees, these 4 have not had a raise in 3-4 years.

(did you know that most of the government homes that have been privatized still ended up with union representation, in almost every case they ended up being represented by the SEIU. How wonderful, now you can all stop whining about loosing your union representation.)

9- Chautauqua County is taking unprecedented action in selling their home? No. only about 1/2 the counties in NY still have a government-run home and many of them are in one stage or another to privatize just like we are doing. For example Albany county, Onondaga County, Orange county, Broome county, and Ulster county. Only two counties have actually closed down their home that we know of, years ago Dutchess and Niagara counties. “County-owned nursing homes have, in particular, become albatrosses around counties’ necks” and “It’s up to us in this state to confront what is a government structure that all too often is antiquated and outmoded.” are two quotes often attributed to this discussion.

10- It’s a partisan political issue? No. Well ok maybe for a few individuals and maybe in one regard with respect to the opposition (more on that later) but as for the effort to sell it is not: First look at other counties, some are Republican majorities and some are Democrat majorities, and furthermore look at some of the individuals that are trying to do the right thing because they know and understand what that is. Democrat Legislator Nazzaro for example, who is in the healthcare industry and the administrative end of such, he has no doubt that a self-sustaining model as a government-run facility is impossible, that the county home is fiscally failing, that only average at best services for such a high cost should no longer be acceptable, and that his responsibility as a legislator is clear. Too bad we can’t say that for all of them!

10b- About those supposed CSEA “government” union concessions, are they real? How much will they really help? What’s the real details? Now we’re getting into some complications and let’s start by talking about the partisan issues because where they do exist, they exist with the union leadership and a few certain “beholden legislators”. The leadership is being disingenuous about a number of things, has been the number one purveyor of scare tactics, has set forth a scenario that is them vs. everybody else, and there a few legislators that are enablers for them. Ahlstrom, a long time city of Dunkirk worker and AFL-CIO member which is a direct affiliate of the CSEA. Dejoe, who is a former County worker and CSEA member. Whitney who is a union boss from Jamestown. Cornell who is high in the leadership of the County Democrat party (along with a family member being a vice chair) and who is 100% pro-union and will always get the CSEA endorsement anytime she runs for an office, who now serves with and is a main supporter of, the new Dem Chair, the conflicted unethical, and again 100% pro-union, Norm Green, and let’s not forget who the new Vice Chair is, Williams Jr of the CSEA. So, hmm, some partisanship, yea you bet. [As a footnote, there is also Hoyer who is so pro-government that surely he is pro-government union, with him though the real issue is that he’s so far left into social justice ideology and rhetoric that there is simply no reasoning with him.] [Footnote2, understand that Ahlstrom’s issue isn’t just what we described above but is also, significantly, that the Home is in his district, and of course all the emotions along with it. Futhermore, he isn’t voting not to sell the home at Cornell’s behest who just helped push him out as Dem chair, no there is a rift between them, and it primarily centers around his desire to stick with the more moderate Congressional candidate Lori Burke as opposed to the farther left Shinagawa that Cornell and Co are stuck on.]

10c- About those supposed CSEA “government” union concessions, are they real? How much will they really help? What’s the real details? On to the more important stuff, here’s how it breaks down: You may recall this whole process did not start out with concessions but rather the CSEA wanting outrageous increases, and only after said outrage by the public and certain officials did some concessions start coming to the table. You should be reminded that last year during our budget crisis and cuts across all departments, the Home offered and contributed nothing towards solving our deficit problems. Now they are touting 1.7 million in concessions and calling them savings. No they are not, they are less increases (and it should be noted that even with a 0.00 increase in the Homes workforce budget, they will still loose 3.3 million next year). Worse yet they tout them as if they directly impact the Home budget when in fact only a fraction of the 1.7 million would impact it. Furthermore the CSEA’s local bosses along with the Buffalo and Albany bosses are flatly rejecting any further concessions, and the petition of over 1/2 the county members to their leadership asking for them to be more reasonable and do more is also being flatly rejected. Add to that some audacious rhetoric coming out of their followers of blind allegiance, such as how the County Sheriff should be cut more and the money given to them, which Fagerstrom and Co are not denouncing. Finally, here’s a real whopper, CSEA head Fagerstrom recently penned a letter to the Legislature that “…as of August 2011 there was no indication that the county home was in distress”. Are you kidding, where were you guys – see the comments above about the budget woes last year, and add to that all the debate about IGT money at that time. Give us a break, that is a statement of utter dishonesty, incompetence, or a combination of both. Lastly, is this is extremely important: The CSEA is not proposing to forgo this 1.7 million, in effect leveling the playing field, and getting a fresh start, NO they are only offering to put them off for 2 years and then they want them all back. The bottom line regardless of all of this is that unless they are willing to do way, way more, it’s not enough!

11- What is truly the overall public opinion on this issue? Well we should start by saying that those making the most noise about continuing a government-run facility are the employees and of course their union, and that stands to reason. Add to that a few others speaking out in their favor who are their friends and family, as well as some of those who are residents, and of course that stands to reason as well. However, it should also be understood that they are a minority, and in the case of the first example – a special interest group that is in fact an arm of the government itself. They seek the Legislature to make a decision for the few over the many, and for a special interest over the general welfare of the county as a whole, and as such they seek a decision that is not in keeping with the responsibility and duty of these Legislators.

Now look at those in favor of making the fiscally prudent choice, and a choice in keeping with the proper role of government: The Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Assoc. as mentioned above; the Editorial Boards of both newspapers; Certainly as many county taxpayers as there are home employees and residents for that matter, and these constituents who have written letters to the editor, or called their legislators, or pleaded to their town representatives, are composed of people in the private sector some of whom work at private care facilities or have loved ones in private care facilities, but some of whom are also home employees who concede that their own union’s position is flawed if not outright wrong (more on that later). Finally, there are also the town officials who have sent resolutions to the Legislature urging the sale. These officials obviously have experience in governance, economics, budgets, and some also in healthcare. They understand how county property taxes affect their own efforts to hold the line on property taxes as well as how they contribute to the overall high burden of property taxes we have in NYS and no less our county, and they are rightfully concerned not to mention properly representing their own constituencies that have spoken out to them.

12- What is actually the IGT money? and what about those surpluses the Home has had at times in the past? Well let’s start with the surplus issue, and first and foremost be clear that any surplus which has ever existed has been a surplus of tax payer monies. These are not profits, they are an excess allocation of tax monies that were only so due to IGT funding. Furthermore, no government enterprise within the larger scope of government, ie. county gov in this case, should have such an excess. Only the County gov itself is to maintain a fund balance as a matter of sound fiscal policy as set by rules of the state comptroller, not sub-agencies below it.

As for the IGT issue, it must be put in proper context and that starts with the full name “Inter Governmental Transfers” or one government transferring monies to another, and of course those monies are tax dollars. These are subsidies and what happens is that the county government is allocating some of our county taxes so that they can put their hand out to the federal government and have them match with an additional fed taxes subsidy. This could otherwise be known as a bailout. Yes that is exactly what it should be called – One part of government bailing out another failing part of government courtesy of the taxpayers!

13- Why can’t the County Home make money when privately run nursing homes can? Let’s have Legislator Borello explain from his recent article: “One of the most common questions I am asked is why can’t the county run the nursing home without a loss when other organizations can make a profit. There are several reasons why a private sector company would be able to succeed in operating the Home without a loss when the government cannot. First, and foremost, is the restrictions placed on county-run nursing homes by the New York State Department of Health. County homes are prohibited from offering assisted living and independent living care which are less labor-intense and more profitable. County homes can only offer skilled nursing. The state of New York will not allow county governments to expand into those other services.” “Should we sell the County Home? When I speak to other legislators “off the record” almost all of them admit that, at some point, we must sell the County Home. Even those who are vocally against the sale of the Home will admit, in confidence, that they realize the County Home will become a budget-busting financial burden. But then they say that they are just not ready to sell right now.” “I feel that “kicking the can down road” will only makes things worse. As Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements drop, and costs rise, the Home will lose value. If we wait a couple more years to sell, when our backs are against the wall, we will not be able to make demands of the buyer, as we are now.” “Right now, we are in relative position of strength. The Request For Proposal (RFP) that went out had 14 conditions that must be honored in the sale. Among those conditions are allowing all current residents to stay in the Home as long as they would like and keeping the home open for at least 10 years. We have the luxury of selling to someone who we feel will maintain the quality of care and honor these commitments.” “If we wait until we are desperate to sell, these conditions will likely not be included as part of the contract. Sound decisions are not made when an issue becomes a crisis.”

In conclusion, we are reminded of some words from the past that are still all too relevant today:

Gov Ronald Reagan, future President – “A Time for Choosing” excerpts from 1964

Reagan as GovernorI am going to talk of controversial things. I make no apology for this.

It’s time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, “We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self government.” This idea — that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power — is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

Plutarch warned, “The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.”

The Founding Fathers knew a government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing.

Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, “What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power.” But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we’re always “against,” never “for” anything.

Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor’s fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can’t socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.

Here’s a few others that understood this:
   Excessive taxation…will carry reason and reflection to every man’s door, and particularly in the hour of election. – Thomas Jefferson
  A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species. – James Madison
   There is no part of the administration of government that requires extensive information and a thorough knowledge of the principles of political economy, so much as the business of taxation. The man who understands those principles best will be least likely to resort to oppressive expedients, or sacrifice any particular class of citizens to the procurement of revenue. It might be demonstrated that the most productive system of finance will always be the least burdensome. – Alexander Hamilton
  An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation. – John Marshall
  In a general sense, all contributions imposed by the government upon individuals for the service of the state, are called taxes, by whatever name they may be known, whether by the name of tribute, tythe, tallage, impost, duty, gabel, custom, subsidy, aid, supply, excise, or other name. – Joseph Story  [and that includes “IGT” “Subsidies” “Bailouts”]
for the background on all of this, reports, articles, ect. see: ISSUES

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25 @ $650K vs. 15 @ $3M

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So what will the County Republicans do with their new found power and executive mandate, we have some ideas:

1- Property tax. Achieve us measurable reductions. Not pennies, nickels, dimes, but rather dollars. That means unlike the Democrats who were in control and couldn’t seem to prioritize, no more screwing around with lowering every other tax except property. Get the Sales tax back up if that’s what it takes. Energy tax, gasoline tax – these are not what’s killing us. On that note, don’t ever again allow legislation like the gas tax cap, which promised by rhetoric – relief for the people – but by action delivered none. Change the legislative leadership and ensure no laws are passed that can’t be enforced nor results quantified.

2. Sales tax. First off it never should have been lowered. That was a hoodwinking by the Dems as they made a deal to keep it, getting what they wanted, while putting on the public face of compromise, yet key players knew Parment wasn’t going to carry it. Then came the feigned outrage about Parment and in the end the whole scenario was just disingenuous partisan politics. Put it back to 8% and “don’t sell us out” to the irresponsible and untrustworthy State with the proposed “sales tax swap”. After all, isn’t the whole idea of improving our County- economic development, retaining population, promoting more tourism, achieving more and better jobs- well if we attain some or all of these goals, sales tax revenues will increase, so where it may seem appealing in the short term, a sales tax swap will only rob us later and we all know how good Albany is at that task. Futhermore, just consider how much better a position we would be in right now if we had the revenues today, that we’ve lost, because of the .25% reduction.

3. Assemblyman Parment. Speaking of things related, above, as well as other issues like Farm bills and 2nd Amendment Legislation, it’s time to stand up to this guy. Voting him out would be better, but until then, it’s our Executive and Legislature that run Our County not Parment! Let’s make it so. How? Well even though many in Albany need to go back to school on the 10th Amendment, there are indeed ways for the State to stand down the Fed on certain issues, and so too are there ways for the County to stand down the State.

4. Bed Tax. My God have we had enough of this process that started out as one particular County democrats’ own pork barrel. Yes that’s true and look what it has become. Still a give away of the People’s money (yes it is the people’s money, all revenues once rendered to the county coffers are the people’s, the government owns nothing, remember) and a process that can never be made totally fair, is constantly being tinkered with, and results- well we would love someone to quantify exactly what they have been. Use our Bed tax; to fund the Visitors Bureau and they can help local events and so on; Use it to fully fund all things necessary for Lakes, waterways, and watersheds management and ensure that not one dime of property tax revenues need be diverted for such; Use any excess there may be to keep a rainy day fund earmarked as part of our overall fund balance so we have money on hand for an emergency like a fill kill, and so that we are saving matching funds for future grants and expensive projects like dredging, rather than having to borrow for them. (By the way, the North-South issue, well eliminate the give aways and eliminate this argument. 2 birds – 1 stone.) (Also as far as the argument that the business collecting bed tax should get some back – pretty foolish considering that business all over the County collect sales tax and you don’t see them getting some of that given back to them.)

5. Cost of County Workforce. It’s high time to stand up to Public Unions to which it is entirely absurd that they even exist (there are real Constitutional defects at work on this one). The fact is that public employees are continually being guaranteed wage increases and stable benefits, when the private sector is not stable and often suffering stagnant wages, let alone cuts in some cases, or lay offs in others. This is an outrage and entirely unfair to the tax paying public. Elected Public Servants must get the public sector back on the same playing field as the private sector and stop bowing to pressures of special interest groups, which is all the unions are anymore.

Stop the fools rhetoric from the other side about reducing the legislature as we all know there is no magic #15, that it is entirely a partisan concern with the goal of gerrymandering districts to hedge power, and on the fiscal side it’s absurd to be more concerned with $90,000 of legislature cost than it is to be concerned with the cost of the county workforce increasing $3,500,000 in a years time while the private sector economy is being blown to hell by a combination of all things including similar problems at the State and fed. (By the way be reminded that the biggest cost to the tax payer for the legislative function of County Government – the insurance benefits – have already been eliminated.)

Another related note herein is getting the Sheriff under control. For crying out loud is there a year he hasn’t been over budget. It’s time the Sheriff is held to the same standards of every other county agency with being within budget and or even cutting their budgets. No more being bailed out over and over by the Democrat majority. Furthermore, no more shenanigans. Remember the outrageous protest and threat to lay off all the PT-lowest paid-road patrol deputies if he didnt get $750,000 (that started at 1,000,000), well he got his way again and now this year whats he want, not to cut the budget, not to keep his workforce in tact, no he wants more money and wants to hire more people. Wow that’s one amazing course correction.

6. Non-Binding Resolutions. Don’t you dare stop them. The hypocrisy we’ve heard on this one is outstanding. Certain legislators that no sooner want to do away with them because a subject has arisen they don’t want to confront, the next month are taking part in one because it now suits them. We need a strong county government to stand between the People of this county and the State, and sometimes even the Fed. We don’t want Gay marriage, so resolve to speak up for us to the state. We don’t want insane 2nd Amendment bills being passed in Albany, so resolve to speak up for us. Resolve to speak up about fiscal issues, unfunded mandates, illegal immigration issues, speak up to support our County clerk, speak up to the Fed that we don’t want this health care bill that is going to devastate the States and therefore trickle down to devastate our County! Get the point.

7. Say No. Simple, when necessary, have the spine to say no. Oh, and explaining why is always good too. (Note, not all things bi-partisan are good; remember when you have a piece of garbage to decide what to do with, simply coming together so everyone looks good, agreeing, and compromising; doesn’t necessarily make gold out of garbage.)

8. Limited Government. Another simple one. Stay Constitutionally correct, not politically correct, and do only those things we hired you to do.

9. Consolidations. Look we understand you cannot force villages to merge with towns and you can’t force school administrations to consolidate their burdensome selves, however you can promote it and you can help in the process. One thing you can do is make sure that $400,000 of our State tax monies are not wasted on the Police merger project. It’s a tough one yes, there’s probably only one way it will be accomplished and it won’t be fun, but if you ensure that this money is not spent in vain, it will all have been worth it.

10- We’re tired and sure you are too. If you manage to accomplish the things above, we need not even fill this one in. Good luck.

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