Sadly, business as usual for municipal governments
By TODD TRANUM
President & CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
Once again the municipal budget season is upon us, and once again no substantive changes have been made. The Chamber of Commerce and the Manufacturers Association have been advocating for several years now for some fundamental changes in the way governmental services are provided changes that could save taxpayer money and provide either the same level of service or even improve it.
Yet nothing has changed. Chautauqua County still has 27 towns, 15 villages, 2 cities and 18 school districts. Each levies its own tax rate, often layering multiple tax rates on thousands of property owners.
Certainly there have been more steps towards additional shared services among local governments in the past few years, but not enough. Inter-municipal cooperation is tremendous, but may never go far enough to substantially shift the high property tax burdens that plague our businesses and residents.
With no critical movement on these issues, the Chamber and MAST have taken an additional approach working directly with some local municipalities to get them to consider new ways to reduce spending. One example is in Jamestown, where we have met candidly with the Mayor and some City Council members to encourage cuts that could avert a 6.26 percent tax increase. On the surface these discussions have appeared to be positive. The next move is up to the City Council as it prepares to vote on a budget.
Regionalization and municipal consolidations are still the best options. In addition, we need state reforms pertaining to the Taylor Law and Triborough Amendment as well as continued pressure to eliminate unfunded mandates that are serious burdens for local government. Eliminating layers of government will make a difference, but it is not being done. We will remain staunch supporters of governmental consolidations and truly regionalized services, and hope that our arguments will not continue to fall on deaf ears.
Shop locally this season
Small Business Saturday may be over, but the spirit of the day can continue right through the Christmas shopping season. When you support local businesses, you are supporting local families and our local economy. Right here in Chautauqua County you can find an eclectic mix of merchandise including artisan, handcrafted and specialty items that may not be available anywhere else.
If you can't find just the right gift, consider Shop Chautauqua County Gift Checks. Available in denominations of $10, $15, and $25, these gift checks are perfect for anyone on your list. They can be used just like any check at more than 80 participating local merchants for everything from groceries to hardware to jewelry. Shop Chautauqua County Gift Checks are available only through the Chamber of Commerce. If you need a large order please call ahead so that we can have it ready. For more information call the Chamber at 484-1101 or 366-6200. Shoptauqua this holiday season to support local business!
Stuff the buses for victims of Superstorm Sandy
The Jamestown Community Chamber of Commerce is encouraging all local residents to help "Stuff the Buses" with relief and cleanup supplies for those affected by Superstorm Sandy in the New York City area. Two Holiday Tours buses are scheduled to leave Jamestown for New York City following the Downtown Jamestown Holiday Parade on Friday, Nov. 30. The cargo compartments of both buses would normally be empty on this journey, but the Jamestown Chamber is working to make sure they are filled with goods to help clean up in the wake of the storm and to serve people in need. The needs are extensive, and the Jamestown Chamber is seeking items to help with debris removal, household cleanup, and food and personal items.
Donated items can be taken to the Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation, 19 West Third Street; Robert H. Jackson Center, 305 East Fourth St.; or the Reg Lenna Civic Center, 116 East Third St. In addition, the Chamber will have a truck in the Holiday parade on Nov. 30 for those who wish to bring their donations to the parade itself and donate during the parade.
Chamber Annual Meeting Dec. 7
The 2012 Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting will be held on Friday, Dec. 7 at Shorewood Country Club in Dunkirk, with local attorney Mary Hajdu as our guest speaker. Ms. Hajdu will discuss Opportunities in the Marcellus/Utica Shale. In addition, the Chamber will present its first ever Pam Lydic Coalition Builders Award in memory of our first Executive Director, and will also announce the top three winners in our Facebook Photo Contest.
The Chamber Annual Meeting is being sponsored by the OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, and WJTN/WWSE/WKSN/WHUG/WQFX. The lunch meeting will begin at 12:15 p.m. and the cost is $18 for Chamber members and $21 for non-members, with registration open online and via phone. Invitations were mailed and include a proxy vote form for Chamber members who are not able to attend.
Chamber Holiday Mixer set
Celebrate the holiday season with the Chamber of Commerce annual Holiday Networking Mixer! This event brings together Chamber members from around the county for an opportunity to network while enjoying this festive season. This year's Holiday Mixer will be held at the Clarion, 30 Lake Shore Drive East, Dunkirk and is being sponsored by DFT Communications, Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York, OBSERVER, and The Post-Journal.
It will be held Thursday, Dec. 20 from 5 to 6:30 p.m., with complimentary hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. The cost is just $8 per person for preregistered guests or $10 at the door. To register, you can call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101, or register online at www.chautauquachamber.org.