By THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE SOUTHERN TIER TEA PARTY PATRIOTS
T-E-A stands for Taxed Enough Already! Certainly this is the case in both New York state and our county.
School, county, town and village property taxes combined, we pay some of the highest in the nation. This directly contributes to why we are economically oppressed and living in one of the least free states.
Harken back to Sid Compton's Sept. 11 commentary "Plan for districts would end multiple layers, 'waste' " as an impetus for cutting the size of all government. We both support his effort and support the concept.
As for our pending county budget, the executive's tentative budget proposes an increase of $7,603,714 over the 2011 budget, which would result in a 12.67 percent property tax increase. We understand this is predominantly driven by state mandate increases resulting in 90 percent of our budget being dictated by Albany. So what can be done to reduce this tax hike and get us closer to the tax cap, while dealing responsibly with an uncertain future and a pending deficit again next year?
The Southern Tier Tea Party Patriots members have completed a review resulting in the following positions:
We fully support the effort to "privatize" the county home.
If spending offsets and/or contract concessions cannot be found to justify the inclusion of intergovernment transfer funding for the home, at whatever level, it should be eliminated.
We strongly oppose any borrowing proposals to decrease the budget. Depleting fund balances while increasing debt is bad fiscal policy, is in no way "cuts," and jeopardizes our future outlook.
The cost of the public work force is unsustainable. Combined wages and benefits are higher than the private sector counterparts that pay for them. It is our position that the County Legislature does what's necessary through negotiations and/or layoffs to achieve a net zero increase in county workforce spending.
We fully support the $1.2 million in cuts to the Sheriff Department budget as called for in the tentative budget, and oppose proposals to restore $500,000. Having discussed numerous ways in which the department can achieve these cuts, we are confident it can be done without jeopardizing public safety.
Following discussion on the county airports, how they serve the public, and the fact that businesses utilize airports in Erie and Buffalo more frequently than our own, we support at least the privatization of Dunkirk County airport.
Regarding the bed tax, it was discovered that occupancy tax services of watershed and tourism were not fully funded in 2011, resulting in a budget gap of approximately $70,000. It is our position that occupancy tax services should be fully funded with said revenues as the program was designed, and that no property taxes should be allocated to these services.
We request that the legislature endorse the Medicaid boycott, and that they sign the "Enough is Enough" petition circulated by Southern Tier Tea Party Patriots and others.
We support bills S.5889 and A.8644 relating to the takeover of Medicaid services by the State, and request our County Legislature formally endorse this legislation.
The Southern Tier Tea Party Patriots board of directors issued this statement. Mel McGinnis is the spokesman.