Republicans raise your taxes again
It seemed as though the spirits of former Republican Legislators James Caflisch, Fred Croscut, Larry Barmore and Doug Richmond were abruptly awakened last week. The group of longtime lawmakers never met a high-spending plan or tax increase they wanted to fight against.
Instead, they were more focused on enjoying the cushy part-time job — without the stress of having to really work — while meeting once every 30 days to collect their $750 monthly check while blaming Albany for everything that was wrong here.
Fittingly around Halloween, those in Mayville seem to be following in those haunting footsteps. Today’s Republican legislators — you know, the ones who claim they want smaller government — led the way in approving a Chautauqua County tax increase. Though four voted against the plan on Wednesday night, party members hold a total of 14 votes. It passed, 15-4.
For the record, those opposing the increase were Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan, Martin Proctor, R-Findley Lake, Elisabeth Rankin, R-Jamestown, and David Wilfong, R-Jamestown. Others who approved the budget — their one big vote of the year — said little to nothing and seemed content with passing on a larger burden to those they serve.
It’s no surprise, really. With the exception of Niebel, this group agrees to just about every wage increase that comes before it. It even added positions to the county district attorney’s office in this budget in preparation for state mandates.
But we knew this was coming. The big disappointment is it did not come in another year or two. Four years ago, county legislators — in an effort to reduce property taxes — increased the sales tax 0.5 percent. It’s a regressive tax, especially on those who live under the county’s median household income of $44,304 and those living in poverty at 18%.
Nonetheless, legislators — in enacting that sales tax hike — acted as though they were heroes while making us ultimately pay the same amount of taxes — just taking it out of a different pocket. Former Legislator Keith Ahlstrom was correct in criticizing the blatant shell game. “We haven’t actually accomplished anything in this budget other than shift monies around,” he said after the Legislature’s vote on the 2016 budget that included a sales tax hike from 7.5% to 8%. “This isn’t a good budget for Chautauqua County.”
No one wanted to deal with the expenses then. No one wants to do it today.
Our county’s one of the highest taxed in New York state — and another increase is on the way in 2020.