What's next for the city of Dunkirk, its school district and Chautauqua County?
NRG Energy Inc., which is currently on a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement, is in the process of mothballing two of its largest units, meaning it is running at about one-third of its capacity. What that equates to for three taxing entities is the potential for less revenue in the PILOT.
With that being the case, the three taxing entities are already facing a shortfall in 2013. A sum of money - about $8.2 million combined - that was expected to be there at this time last year, may not be.
In addition, there is a tax cap of 2 percent that was enacted last year by New York state. Raising property taxes, however, does not seem as though it can be answer.
So who is willing to step up?
Residents and businesses in this community have for years. They already pay some of the highest taxes in the nation.
That is why it is time for all parties affected - city, school and county leadership - to meet with management and union employees to discuss some sort of concessions or givebacks. Automatic pay raises for another year of work cannot happen while tax revenue that is continuously - and drastically this year - decreasing.
Dunkirk firefighters are already a part of the solution. They agreed to a contract that held the line on wages for two years. They deserve the community's thanks.
But if concessions do not happen elsewhere, personnel cuts will be made. That does nothing to help the local economy, though it will pad the wages of those top-tier earners - the $80,000 to $100,000 per year employees - for all three taxing entities.
Reducing the work force so those at the top can make more money was not the premise that unions were founded on, but that has become the way it is in the public sector.
Take a look at the Chautauqua County Home. Some of the biggest savings in expenses would be in union concessions, as stated in the Center for Government Research report. But David Fagerstrom, CSEA Unit 6300 president, would rather send out a press release last week complaining about politics behind the possible sale of the Home than talk about what the union can do to help with future cost savings.
Community residents have paid "their fair share" for many years. They cannot afford any more tax or fee increases in the coming year.
All who work for the city, its schools and county must be ready to come to the table and plan for less in the future. The current path is not sustainable.