Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

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)


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?


Yes  8.11%

No  86.49%   

Undecided  5%

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


  1. Yes 15%
  2. No 85%

Read more on our OCDB Issues page here.

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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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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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 JPS Board Approves Budget Proposal

April 7, 2010

It is what it is. Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education members had little else to say before voting on a 2010-2011 budget Tuesday — with the five-word comment coming from Joseph DiMaio. The $76.6 million budget was approved in a 6-1 vote during an evening meeting at Jefferson Middle School. Thomas Pope cast the lone dissenting vote. The budget will go to the public May 18. Though $697,435 less than the current year’s budget, the 2010-2011 budget features a 5 percent local tax increase — equaling 85 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The $697,435 figure represents a .48 percent decrease from the 2009-2010 budget. Explaining the district’s budget situation, Daniel “Deke” Kathman, superintendent of schools, said the problem is one of decreased revenues — largely from loss of state funding.

» Full Story

No sir, it’s a loss of one time extra state funding, you as an educator are smarter than that and ought to quit playing word games and hoodwinking the taxpayers! At 76.6Million you’re spending 4.5Million more than 2 years ago, 12.2Million more than 3 years ago, and 18Million more than 5 years ago!

Well isn’t that great, still a tax hike, BUT the budget is $697k lower than last year. Sorry but that is nothing to gloat about. We repeat, over the past couple years you have received Millions in additional Fed and State Aid, for example 06-07 Fed aid UP $2.2M, 07-08 State aid UP $8.6M, and what have you done with it?

Oh the payroll, 08-09 total payroll went up approx $10M, yes 10 Million $. Now you’re whining and can’t do better, well ain’t that a shame. We’ve reviewed the payroll and although Kathman is working for less than Faschano was, Kathman still got a raise from his previous position, and everyone else has gotten raises too. Spending overall has gone up year after year and over the short term as described below, by huge percentages, and they come up with 1/2% decrease. Maybe you all need to forego any raises in pay or benefits, maybe even give some back, and definately you need to get the 100’s of people you’ve added to the payroll, off the payroll. If your people are doing their jobs and working so hard, you should not need all these extra aids and subs.

Enough’s enough, if JPS can’t do what it has to do to come up with a no tax increase budget, then the Voters should join the lone dissenter Mr Pope (and our praise to you sir) and vote down this budget, and as importantly, vote out everyone except Mr Pope!

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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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NY school payrolls jump, enrollment drops, private sector unemployment at level not seen in decades, tax payers bleed, fiscal crisis rocks nation and the state, Ny property/school taxes some of worst in the nation, Ny deficit at an all time high, Ny spending at all time high, but the teachers unions and administrators keep on bolstering their ranks and taking raises.

Don’t just read this article, read the next 2 entries we previously posted that make all this clear as day. This payroll issue isn’t just happening elsewhere in the state, it’s been happening right here in Chautauqua county!

Report: NY school payrolls jump, enrollment drops

By MICHAEL GORMLEY , 03.30.10, 04:15 PM EDT

ALBANY, N.Y. — A study released Tuesday reported that New York public schools have dramatically increased hiring during a period of historic increases in state aid and local property taxes even while enrollment declined.

The report by The Empire Center of the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute comes as schools, protected by powerful lobbies, have so far avoided deep cuts during the state’s fiscal crisis while warning that a proposed cut of 5 percent would force layoffs that would devastate education……

“I’m not saying, `Go ahead and lay them off,'” said the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon. “But this is a system that has not been starved by any definition … let’s get some perspective.”

McMahon said large staff cuts at once would be too disruptive. But there are other ways to cut costs, he said, including freezing raises for a year that an assemblyman recently calculated would save $1 billion, almost all of the proposed cut in school aid.

Unlike other areas of state spending, including health care and social services for the poor, school aid protected by the state’s powerful teachers unions has escaped deep cuts in the state’s two years of fiscal crisis and is in line for a rare restoration of a proposed cut. McMahon called the New York State United Teachers union the most powerful lobbyist in Albany, spending millions on lobbying and campaign contributions each year.

Gov. David Paterson has pushed the 5 percent cut in state school aid, which now totals about $21 billion a year. After consecutive years of record aid and local tax increases, most schools have enough reserves to take the hit, he said.


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