POVERTY: Government has some blame

There was something missing from an otherwise informative discussion on county poverty at a recent forum in Dunkirk presented by Chautauqua Opportunities Inc. last week. Nowhere in the forum did high tax rates get discussed.

Chautauqua County is no stranger to this issue. For years, the county has been rated nationally as having one of the highest tax burdens.

It’s not getting much better. Despite the information our newspaper presented last week, if municipalities are not raising taxes, then they are doing the next best thing to keep going: raising rates on water and sewer.

Only one panelist actually came close to mentioning the high tax burden. That was Andy O’Brien, who was a behaviorial specialist with UPMC WCA Chautauqua. He said the economic struggles and lack of jobs is the key to the poverty rate in Chautauqua County, which is 19 percent

Those jobs — and industry — are tough to come by when taxes and rates are not held in check. Make no mistake, the only growth in the county over the last five decades has been in government and schools.

Budgets keep growing as population decreases. That’s a troubled fiscal recipe.