MAYVILLE - State and county officials are interested in coming together to talk about a variety of issues, but there continues to be little hiccups regarding exactly how that's going to happen.
Members of the County Legislature's Audit and Control Committee had wanted state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, and Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, to attend the committee's recent budget meeting. Neither could make it, but they and their offices did reach out to the legislators who sit on the committee.
At their June 2 meeting, the committee discussed the sales tax increase request which Sen. Young declined to support in Albany. That discussion segued into a larger conversation about the county's current fiscal situation and state issues such as the property tax cap and unfunded mandates.
Interested in sharing their questions and concerns with the county's state representatives, Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown, requested that both Sen. Young and Goodell be invited to the committee's Thursday, July 7 meeting. Nazzaro is quoted in the minutes of the June meeting as saying that both caucuses of the legislature should gang up on the state officials - just as lawmakers previously aired their concerns with former Assemblyman Bill Parment, D-North Harmony.
"We want to open our books to them and make our case," Nazzaro said recently of the reason for wanting to have the state officials at an Audit and Control meeting.
Young said Friday that she is happy to meet with county officials to share information about the progress New York state has made toward economic growth, and tax and mandate relief this year.
"I am glad to have a personal meeting at my office with Assemblyman Goodell, County Executive Greg Edwards, Chairman Fred Croscut, Finance Director Darin Schulz and legislators Jay Gould, Chuck Nazzaro and John Runkle to discuss any questions they may have about these initiatives."
Nazzaro said after this past Thursday's meeting that the committee appreciates the offer and will meet with the state officials at their convenience, but is still requesting that Young and Goodell attend an Audit and Control meeting.
"We did make a formal motion that we would have Clerk Ron Lemon send out another letter to both Sen. Young and Assemblyman Goodell asking them to come to our July 21 meeting, which is the next Audit and Control meeting to discuss the budget," Nazzaro said. "If they can't make that, we also had as part of the motion that they can pick the time and we will adjust our schedules to meet with them.
So we still want to meet with them even though Sen. Young's office has reached out to us to meet on July 22 in her office, we also still want them to come to the Audit and Control meeting because we really want to explain to them and open up our books to them that, again, 87 percent of our budget is mandated - we have no control over it. We just want to have an open dialogue with them that's in a public format. I think it's important for the public to understand that when they read about things in the newspaper or hear us on the radio; we're not just blowing smoke. We're dealing with hard, factual numbers that many of which, we, as county legislators, have no control over."
Sen. Young said Friday that her office is assembling packets of information about the mandate relief measures and property tax cap which were just recently passed, in addition to other actions the senate has taken to reduce Medicaid costs.
"There is a wealth of information," she said.
She also said she will be listening to details and asking questions about the county's fiscal situation.
"There certainly is a lot to talk about," she said. "I look forward to a cordial and productive conversation with county officials."