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Support NRG Repowering – Contact The PSC Now

By Todd J. Tranum  – President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

In order for the project to move forward, the Public Service Commission must vote to allow the NRG repowering.  This is a time for all businesses and residents in Chautauqua County to make their voices heard on this issue.  Please write to the PSC now.  You can send support letters to:  Chairman Garry A. Brown & Acting Secretary Jeffrey Cohen, NYS Public Service Commission, Agency Bldg. 3, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223.  Please reference Case # 12-E-0577.  In addition, you may send comments and concerns to Hon. Andrew Cuomo, Governor, New York State, Executive Chamber, NYS Capitol, Albany, NY 12224.  If you prefer to email, you can find a link directly to the PSC’s comment page for this case on the Chamber’s website at www.chautauquachamber.org.  Thank you.

Senator Young requests local hearing on NRG

New York State Sen. Catharine Young has filed a request with the state’s Public Service Commission that it hold a hearing in the local area on the future of the NRG Dunkirk plant and its repowering proposal.

“It is only right that the members of the community that are directly impacted by these proposals be given a voice in this critical matter, and granted a hearing with those making the decisions,” Young wrote PSC Chairman Garry A. Brown. “Therefore, I request that you arrange to have at least one public hearing in Dunkirk or its immediate surrounding area as soon as possible, within the timeframe of the 45-day public comment period…

“We’ve got a lot of comments and support. I know the 4,000 people who signed the petition was really wonderful. We did send the signatures to the Public Service Commission just to show them the broad depth of support for the repowering project, but even if people signed a petition it still would be very helpful for people to send in their own letter also.”

Letters may be sent to: Chairman Garry A. Brown and Acting Secretary Jeffrey Cohen, NYS Public Service Commission Agency Bldg. 3, Empire State Plaza Albany, NY 12223. Be sure to refer to case number 12-E-0577.

Public comments and letters may also be submitted to the PSC online by going to documents.dps.ny.gov/public/Comments/PublicComments.aspx?MatterCaseNo=12-E-0577.

Read the full articles on our OCDB issues page here.

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As NYS and it’s counties continue to have some of the highest property taxes nationally, a major component is of course the portion that is your School Taxes. Please vote on your school budgets, we say mostly NO because most of them contain increases, though there are a few we would vote Yes as you’ll see below. We hope you have also looked at Board candidates and where there are choices, that you vote for the best one (that will oppose irresponsibility at the state level, oppose federal intervention and dictates such as common core, and who will support an agenda that truly puts proper education and the kids first, not the unions, not special interests, and not radical social agendas). As for the budgets, consider the following before you vote:

Countywide in 2006 we had 21956 students, and as of 2013 we have 20338 students. This equals an enrollment decline of 1618 students.

At an (2006) average cost of $15974/student, that would equal a decline in spending of $25,845,932.

However, that is not the case as total countywide spending in 2006 was $350,728,170, by 2009 with (unnecessary) increases in Federal and State aid, spending (like drunken sailors) was up to $427,049,005 (note that some of this increase was due to a couple of major building projects such as with Southwestern, but then we must point out that in the same course of events, total debt of $274,351,873 in 2006 had climbed to $322,788,619 by 2009). Our schools systems across the county are almost in as much debt collectively as they are spending.

Since then the public has got wise, cracked down on the school systems, and to a degree gotten some of this spending under control. However, the proposed spending this year is $376,204,605 is still almost $26 million higher than 2006 yet with 1618 fewer students! [Note that we also have the 2% property tax cap now but it’s kind of a joke with respect to the schools. Heck they can raise their levy by 6% and not violate the cap because of all the exclusions they are granted, but we digress as the whole TaxCap issue is another story.]

So what’s to explain this you might ask? We submit it is a combination of a few things we will not be shy about saying: 1- In past years the public school unions have been greedy and out of control, pay and benefits have exploded, contracts overly generous, Taylor laws and Triborough amendments giving them special protections, it has hurt us taxpayers, continues to do so, and we need more reforms therein. 2- The public sector state pension system remains a ticking bomb and a major contributor. Again generous and “guaranteed” benefit are at work and all shortfalls to the pension system are simply made up by cranking up the employer (municipality) contribution rate (or in other words taxpayers are taxed more) 3- We have 18 school “administrations” and whereas the union factor is a part of this equation with respect to some of the administration staff, having 18 administrations in of itself is a problem. Just consider that 18 Superintendents at an average of $125,000/year (Southwestern’s is presently about $155,000) each, equals $2,250,000 in spending, just on 18 (non-union, by the way) people. How about we have one County superintendent for $225,000, saving us $2,000,000/year and we consolidate the administrations overall saving us $millions and millions more. In addition, right size overall staffing in schools to the degree it still needs to be done (some has been done over the last few years), and freeze salaries and benefits for the “tenured” teachers until the playing field levels out (we have some of the highest compensated public school teachers in the entire country). Oh and that pension issue, well the baby steps taken with tier 6 for example are just that, and we need yet more reform. However, now we have this pension smoothing scheme, it is a scam, terribly irresponsible, and it will likely eventually explode that ticking pension bomb we alluded to above.

{Note on highest average teacher salaries nationwide: Please do not let certain folks try to convince you that this analysis or others are skewed by NYC schools data. In Southwestern alone, as of 2010 payroll, there were 30 people making over $70,000/year plus benefits, with 5 more ready to hit that level in the next payroll year. At this level of compensation (for what is less than 52 week 40 hour per week work), in a matter of only a decade these folks are millionaires, on your tax dime!}

{{Source: The current figures were taken from the article below and all other figures / prior year figures come directly from the NYS Comptroller’s Office}}

IF YOU’RE NOT UPSET YET AND READY TO VOTE AGAINST YOUR INCREASING SCHOOL BUDGET (ESPECIALLY THOSE INCREASING BY MORE THAN 2%), THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU!

School Budget Facts And Figures

May 19, 2013 The Post-Journal Save | Comments (1) | Post a comment |

[OCDB emphasis added – Cost per student]

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY

SOUTHWESTERN

Proposed spending: $25,857,975 – a .46 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $12,379,950 – a 2.44 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,430 students / Cost per student $18082

Board elections: one three-year term up for election; incumbent William Burk is running unopposed

[Consider: 2006 Enrollment 1609 students, Spending $23,571,756, Cost per student $14649]

FREWSBURG

Proposed spending: $15,506,279 – a 3.35 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $4,982,166 – a 2.1 percent incease

Enrollment: 848 students / Cost per student $18285

Board elections: three three-year terms and one one-year term up for election; five candidates running: Eric Wright, Hannah Hayes, Randall Wiltsie, Janet Black and Jason Ruhlman

CASSADAGA VALLEY

Proposed spending: $19,967,698 – a .15 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $5,097,060 – a 1.98 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,011 students / Cost per student $19750

Board elections: one five-year term and one two-year vacancy up for election; three candidates running: incumbent Jeanne Oag is unopposed, Sandra Barker and Daniel Pavlock are running for the two-year term

CHAUTAUQUA LAKE

Proposed spending: $19,535,232 – a 2.15 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $10,806,020 – a 3.72 percent increase

Enrollment: 972 students / Cost per student $20097

Board elections: information not available

PINE VALLEY

Proposed spending: $15,019,537 – a 2.7 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $3,236,080 – a 3 percent increase

Enrollment: 607 students / Cost per student $24743

Board elections: three three-year terms up for election, four candidates running: incumbents are Jo Anne Anderson, Janie Waag and Lawrence Zollinger, challenger is Angelo Graziano

CLYMER

Proposed spending: $9,750,795 – a 3.48 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $3,966,909 – a 2.56 percent increase

Enrollment: 435 students / Cost per student $22415

Board elections: no contested seats

DUNKIRK

Proposed spending: $40,923,396 – a 1.79 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $9,614,516 – no change

Enrollment: 2,030 students / Cost per student $20159

Board elections: one one-year term and two three-year terms up for election; three candidates running: incumbents are Kenneth Kozlowski and Linda Guy, the other candidate is Bridget Majka

BEMUS POINT

Proposed spending: $13,119,825 – a 5.17 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $7,900,064 – a 5.67 percent increase

Enrollment: 772 students / Cost per student $16994

Board elections: two three-year terms up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Lisa Allenson and the other candidate is Barry Swanson

FALCONER

Proposed spending: $21,647,772 – a 2.53 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $6,856,116 – a 3.45 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,209 students / $17905

Board elections: one five-year term and one one-year term up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Todd Beckerink and the other candidate is Christopher Hannon

SILVER CREEK

Proposed spending: $20,477,618 – a 3.25 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $5,661,824 – a 2.7 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,094 students / Cost per student $18718

Board elections: one five-year term and one one-year unexpired term up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Greg Cole and the other candidate is Steven Boothe

FORESTVILLE

Proposed spending: $11,483,188 – a .31 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $3,622,430 – a 3.9 percent increase

Enrollment: 524 students /  Cost per student $21914

Board elections: one four-year term up for election, incumbent Bruce Ellis is running unopposed

PANAMA

Proposed spending: $12,198,067 – a 1.66 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $3,461,172 – no change

Enrollment: 567 students / Cost per student $21513

Board elections: two incumbents are running unopposed

JAMESTOWN

Proposed spending: $75,369,680 – a 1.86 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $14,641,567 – no change

Enrollment: 5,220 students / Cost per student $14438

Board elections: two three-year terms up for election, three candidates running: incumbents are Joe DiMaio and Patrick Slagle and the challenger is Todd Rushforth

FREDONIA

Proposed spending: $28,754,508 – a 2.99 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $15,079,019 – a 2.98 percent increase

Enrollment: 1,474 students / Cost per student $19507

Board elections: one term up for election, incumbent Roberta Coniglio is running unopposed

BROCTON

Proposed spending: $15,298,333 – a 3.97 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $4,486,946 – a 1.99 percent increase

Enrollment: 618 students / Cost per student $24754

Board elections: two five-year terms up for election; three candidates running: Jim Farrell, Beth Jagoda and Robert Mead-Colgrove

RIPLEY

Proposed spending: $8,370,065 – a 1.75 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $2,140,341 – a 4.08 percent decrease

Enrollment: 325 students / Cost per student $25754

Board elections: two three-year terms up for election, three candidates running: incumbent Frederick Krause is running unopposed for one seat, the other two candidates are Wanda Bentley and Paul McCutcheon

SHERMAN

Proposed spending: $8,771,623 – a 1.87 percent decrease

Proposed tax levy: $2,398,032 – a 4 percent increase

Enrollment: 460 students /  Cost per student $19068

Board elections: one five-year term up for election, two candidates running: the incumbent is Emily Kidd and the challenger is Tim Sears

WESTFIELD

Proposed spending: $14,153,014 – a 2.17 percent increase

Proposed tax levy: $5,678,406 – a 4.49 percent increase

Enrollment: 742 students / Cost per student $19074

Board elections: one five-year term up for election, incumbent Steve Cockram is running unopposed

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Schools Prep For Budget Votes

May 19, 2013 By Gavin Paterniti (gpaterniti@post-journal.com) , The Post-Journal

Ready to vote: School budgets, board seats up Tuesday

May 19, 2013 OBSERVER Staff Report Save | Comments (4) | Post a comment |

Rotten to the ‘Core?’

May 19, 2013 The OBSERVER Save | Comments (4) | Post a comment |

By DEANN NELSON, Member STTPP

Funds, staff keep shrinking

May 19, 2013 The OBSERVER Save | Comments (18) | Post a comment |

For some, it was an unsettling tone. Cassadaga Valley music teacher John Cross and another 75 residents attended last week’s Board of Education meeting to voice their concerns regarding the elimination of a music teacher position in the district.

“I’ve done everything I can over the last four weeks (to convince the board not to cut music). … I don’t want to go in there and blindside anyone,” Cross said. “It needs to be said. I’ve been around here longer than anyone. I am not a public speaker, a political organizer, or a rabble rouser.”

His sympathetic story is one we hear annually at a number of districts. And Cross is correct. The cuts are not fair. But neither is the expenses associated with the Cassadaga Valley music program.

According to seethroughny.net, three music teachers in the district receive more than $275,000 in salary. Total compensation of the music teachers, including health benefits and pensions, equates to $386,000. That’s about 10 times more, according to published reports, than most professional musicians will earn if they are lucky.

Is that cost sustainable to a school district of just a little more than 1,000 students? Absolutely not. But if you do not hear concessions offered by staff members in the district to add another position, what other choice does the board have?

One option residents have is to defeat Tuesday’s proposal that goes before voters, which would give the board the option of revisiting its budget. The bad news is the board could decide to put an austerity plan into effect, which is 2 percent less than what is proposed and usually adds to the unhappiness.

No district in this county of 17 1/2 is riding a wave of optimism. Enrollments are declining, programming is suffering and expenses keep rising. At least Ripley – the smallest of all our county districts – did something about it. Voters there approved tuitioning their students in grade seven to 12 to Chautauqua Lake. It stabilized costs, lowered taxes and adds opportunities for their students.

What about the other districts?

It is more of the same. Bare-bones plans. Excuses of state mandates and fewer courses for the students.

Which gets us back to the reduction at Cassadaga Valley. It will not get better there – or any other local district in the future. But joining forces, as Ripley and Chautauqua Lake have done, provides some flexibility.

Chautauqua County residents, however, have fought being flexible for years. It is why mergers and consolidations of the smallest bits of government and schools have been defeated over that past 30 years.

We are running out of other choices.

[OCDB, When funds and staff shrink the first thing you need to ask is are you shrinking existing bloat, which isn’t a bad thing. When a bubble has been created you have 2 choices; Take corrective action and Shrink it, or Continue on til it Bursts!]

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Governor Cuomo and the New York Energy Highway Task Force: Support the Dunkirk Repowering Project

Support the Dunkirk Repowering Project

Petitioning Governor Cuomo and the New York Energy Highway Task Force (click above to sign)

NOTE: In addition to the online poll, if you know someone without internet, there are paper petitions as well. They are available at various County and Dunkirk public offices, call the County Exec @ (716) 753-4211 for more info.

As of this post now over 1000 signatures, but still should be far more. Still haven’t signed yet? Please do so today and we would emphasize the same sentiments as to why as those offered below:

October 18, 2012 The Dunkirk OBSERVER

Urgency grows for petition

Not to sound snide, but where are all the residents who support the NRG Energy Inc. $700 million plan to convert the Dunkirk facility from being coal fired to a natural-gas plant? As of Wednesday morning, there were around 400 people who had signed the petition, which means so much to this region and Western New York. Just in case you need reminding, NRG’s Dunkirk facility:

Contributes nearly $8.5 million in a payment in lieu of taxes agreement, which benefits the city of Dunkirk, its school district and the county. / Has an economic impact of more than $40 million annually to this area. / Supports numerous non-profit initiatives and organizations. /Also, if the proposal for a natural gas facility passes, there will be hundreds of jobs – and out-of-town cash for restaurants, hotels and merchants – coming to the area for a plant upgrade.

So thanks to those 400 people – and hundreds of others around our area who have signed the paper petition – for taking the time to express your support. If you have not done so yet, please do. The web address is www.powerupwny.org and click on the box on the home page to sign.

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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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Time to Act – Special County Legislature Meeting this Thursday, October 18th, 6:30pm, Mayville.

Be there, stand up for the taxpayers and the general welfare of our county, and speak out.

This failing government enterprise needs to be transitioned over to the private sector if you really want to save it, the services, and the jobs it provides.

As for signs, we’ll take option number three!

Hmm let’s see, from top to bottom:

Sign #1 – That’s what they say but it’s nothing more than a scare tactic. Save it? From what, the bombs, the bulldozers, the padlocks? NO, that is not at all the case.

Sign #2 – This is the real agenda = See sign #1.

Sign #3 – Now we are talking reality, and the proper fiscal responsibility as well as the proper role of government. The choice, from our duly elected and accountable representatives, in this case County Legislators, is clear – privatize the home, or in other words sell it, with necessary conditions yes, but never the less sell it.

No more delays, stalling, or pandering, no more $80k studies, no more emotions over facts, figures, inevitable conclusions, and duty. No more subsidies, no more bailouts, no more sticking the taxpayers with the cost of excessive government, when in fact the same services and jobs could be provided by a private sector entity that will enhance our local economy, as opposed to taking from it.

It’s long overdue, time for county government to act to protect all those families paying property taxes, time to help save all our homes, and the time to act is NOW !!!

“So often we hear from County government that their hands are tied on an issue, that due to legalities of one sort or another by the state or federal government, that they cannot act. This is not case with the County home, it is a decision solely in the hands of our county officials, no excuses”

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School Boards Elections and Budget Vote

SCHOOLS BOARD ELECTIONS AND BUDGET VOTE MAY 18, 2010. DON’T JUST VOTE DOWN YOUR SCHOOL BUDGET, VOTE IN NEW BOARD MEMBERS TOO. SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS HAVE BEGUN AND THERE ARE INCUMBANTS NEEDING AN OUSTING AND VACANT SEATS NEEDING FILLED.

You know why we need new people in the realm of fiscal prudence, but make no mistake – we need new people to stand up to the radical agendas creeping into our schools everywhere.

STOP THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA FROM AFFECTING YOUR 1ST GRADER, YES EVEN 1ST GRADERS, IT’S QUIETLY HAPPENING RIGHT HERE IN CHAUTAQUA COUNTY. STOP THE ABORTION LOBBY FROM AFFECTING YOUR UNDERAGE CHILDREN LIKE THE 15 YEAR OLD GIRL WHO WAS RECENTLY PROVIDED A TAX PAYER FUNDED ABORTION BY A WASHINGTON SCHOOL, WITH NO PARENTAL CONSENT OR KNOWLEDGE. PLANNED PARENTHOOD IS ALIVE AND WELL HERE ALSO, IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME. STOP THE USURPING OF PARENTAL RIGHTS, STAND UP TO THE GOVERNMENT INTRUSION BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR CHILD. STOP THE ERRADICATION OF CHRISTIANITY AND THE MORAL TEACHINGS THEREWITH. STOP THE OVERALL LIBERAL INDOCTRINATION, TEACHING OF REVISIONIST HISTORY, AND LACK OF PROPER STUDIES OF AMERICAN HERITAGE AND CONSTITUTIONAL LEARNING.

We urge you or others you know to take a stand and run, and to get involved and support those that do.

FOR CANDIDATES Petitions nominating candidates for the office of member of the Board of Education can be obtained from the Clerk of your District, are available now, and must be filed with not later than 4:00pm April 19, 2010, at the office of said clerk. Your district clerk will also inform you of how many signatures you need from qualified voters (regardless of party) in your district (in Jamestown it’s 100).

FOR VOTERS Absentee ballots may be obtained, by application, from your District Clerk on or after April 24, 2010, but no later than May 12, if requested by mail. Absentee ballots must be filed with the District Clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. May 18, 2010. If your not a registered voter, you must do so by or on May 4th. (Jamestown holds a registration that day, check with your clerk to be sure of the date in your own district).

IT’S UP TO YOU TO TAKE BACK OUR GOVERNMENT, AND THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE A LARGE AND IMPORTANT PART OF IT!

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In Our Opinion From the Editor, Jamestown Post Journal

POSTED: April 5, 2010

New York’s Division of the Budget offers a by-the-numbers look at state funding of education that perhaps should put perspective on the unresolved questions about how much aid money the state should put in next year’s budget.

These figures should also be kept in mind as school districts contemplate the need to increase the amount of money collected locally from property owners to fund education.

Gov. David Paterson’s initial budget proposal recommends $20.5 billion for school aid, a $1.1 billion or 5 percent cut from this year. But of course the state Assembly appears to be walking away from even that modest amount.

Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering what the Division of the Budget says about the Paterson proposal.

”A look at this proposal, by the numbers, indicates that the vast majority of school districts should be able to manage these reductions without adversely impacting property taxpayers or educational quality,” the Division of the Budget notes.

Here’s the numbers:

Even with the cut, the governor’s proposal represents a 42 percent – $6.1 billion – increase in school aid since the 2003-04 state budget. That increase, says the Division of the Budget, is more than twice the rate of inflation during that period.

Looking back the 10 years before that, to 1991, the governor’s initial proposal represented a 141 percent or $12 billion increase which is, again, more than twice the rate of inflation during that period.

New York’s per pupil overall education spending is $15,536 – 61 percent above the national average.

New York per pupil spending on school district employee salaries is $7,328 – 71 percent above the national average.

New York per pupil spending on school district employee benefits is $2,901 – 109 percent above the national average.

The total amount of reported undesignated reserves held by school districts statewide, which the Division of the Budget points out could potentially be used to mitigate proposed state aid reductions, is $1.5 billion.

New York is going broke, school and other local taxes are breaking the backs of property owners, public employees are continuing to collect raises and enviable benefits year after year. And frankly, we do not see anything in Albany or locally to indicate in any way that the ballooning costs of government will be reined in.

At best we see most of our elected representatives trying to figure out which type of tax and fee increases will have the least impact on them personally come election time.

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