MAYVILLE - County lawmakers will receive a report this month detailing the finances of area municipal governments.
Last week, the legislature's financial analyst, Mark Deas, confirmed he will present a report on the revenues and expenditures of towns and villages to the Administrative Services Committee this week.
The information comes at the request of Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown, who had proposed the idea as a resolution at the committee's August meeting. A vote was not held on the proposal, but it was agreed that Deas would return to the committee this month with the information.
Cornell explained in committee last month that such a report would give legislators a better sense of the cost of government on a countywide basis. In conversation with the OBSERVER on Tuesday, Cornell expanded on her comments from last month."When we refer to government, I think, elected officials should refer to government in the way that taxpayers do, as the bottom line on their tax bills," Cornell said. "Taxpayers aren't so interested in necessarily what is their county tax bill, what is their city tax bill, what is their town and village tax bill. Taxpayers are interested in the bottom line.
"I know we as elected officials across the board and at every level of government have tough decisions to make this fall in putting together our budgets," Cornell continued. "One of the solutions might be to work together in a more progressive way in the future with municipal governments and county government sharing and consolidating services to save taxpayers on the overall bottom line."
In addition to revenues and expenditures, Deas said the report will have information on part-time and full-time employees as well as the local cost of the county's school districts.
"I've just had preliminary conversations with Mr. Deas, but I'm excited to see the final product," Cornell said. "I had hoped we could come up with a summary that's just very, very straightforward and simplistic - something that I know everyone can look at and appreciate from even just a quick glance. We have all kinds of studies out there on potential consolidations of various services, what we really need now is just a simple, one-page summary which we can all digest and understand and gives us options for the future."
In committee last month it was pointed out that what Cornell was requesting was info which county government has no control over.
"It is all local government," said Majority Leader Larry Barmore, R-Gerry. "We have enough problems with our own budget and if you want this information and this information is readily available, feel free to get it. I think this is just a total waste of Mr. Deas' time and it is a total waste of the legislative clerk's office and there is not a thing on here that you asked for that we need or can do anything about. It is all stuff that we are interested in and if we want it then we know where to find it. I am totally against this."
Though the resolution was pulled during the committee meeting, the committee asked Deas to still compile the information. At the full legislature meeting which followed, Cornell said she was disappointed she did not receive support for the resolution in committee.
"I think that such a summary provides the type of overview that we need to really seriously look at Chautauqua County as a whole as taxpayers do and more explicitly how we can start using that basis for consolidating our services," Cornell said at the meeting
"As I said on the floor," Cornell said Tuesday of last month's full legislature meeting. "It's just kind of ironic that there are some in the legislature who are already discussing and seem so eager to override a tax cap that the state has put in and to raise property taxes, but do not have the will to offer leadership on the major structural issues impacting our taxes which is the failure to consolidate."