As downsizing initiatives continue in Erie County, upsizing - in spending and taxes - continues to be the trend for Chautauqua County.
Despite an eight-month warning, county lawmakers did a lot of talking, but never took any action to lessen the $18 million budget deficit facing residents in 2011. Instead, they waited, waited and waited ... and then hiked taxes 9 percent. Their decision is a shot to the gut for both taxpayers and business.
How many lawmakers does it take to produce a 2-cent per $1,000 decrease of assessed property valuation in Greg Edwards' budget proposal? Twenty five - or 200 twiddling fingers - in a county where taxes are among the highest in the nation.
They again did nothing to repair our county's already poor business climate.
A Control Board would get things in order and take out the politics. Erie County - which has a population nearly eight times our size and formerly under Control Board rule - also proposed its budget in October. It did not increase taxes and minimally increased spending.
All things considered, both plans needed to cut spending. That did not happen.
But in Erie County, drastic and unfortunate cuts are part of executive Chris Collins' plans. Those include:
223 workers will be laid off.
187 vacant positions are being eliminated.
A $4 million reduction in library funding.
$625,000 in funding for the arts.
Painful proposals, just like the Democratic reduction plan offered during the last week in Chautauqua County, always face protest. On Wednesday, the protesters won out - just like they do every year here.
But our biggest protesters continue to be a majority of the 25 lawmakers who think they are making our county a better place every year - even though business and population numbers indicate otherwise.
Erie County voters on Election Night voted by an 8-to-2 margin to decrease their Legislature size from 15 to 11. Our county legislators do not even want to give residents a chance to decide on a reduction plan.
Representation will always be the excuse, even though legislators do not want their constituency to vote on the issue.
As always, too many of those lawmakers seem to know what's best for them, but not what is best for reviving a county that is full of potential, but all too often living in the past.
John D'Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 366-3000, ext. 401.