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COUNTY: Restructuring deserves look

The OBSERVER’s View

County Legislator Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan, is on the right track when it comes to the county’s 2021 public safety budget.

When the County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee met last week, Niebel suggested some major restructuring to the county Probation Department and the Sheriff’s Department’s Snowmobile Division. Both suggestions brought concerns from Legislator Bob Bankoski, D-Dunkirk, regarding union contracts and, in regard to the snowmobile division, safety for snowmobile riders. Bankoski’s concerns are valid and need to be hashed out, but Niebel’s logic is sound during a time when massive county budget shortfalls are projected for next year.

“It is important because we are expecting a pretty good shortfall in revenue for our local share, so I think some of those things need to become a reality,” said legislator Dan Pavlock, R-Sinclairville.

Give Niebel and Pavlock credit for their willingness to take a sledgehammer to the budget rather than a pencil eraser. The 2021 budget is not one for wish lists and pie-in-the-sky budget requests. It needs to be barebones. Existing programs need to be justified and, if not mandated, face serious discussion about cutbacks.

The way things have always been done won’t cut it with this budget. Legislators should follow the lead of Pavlock and Niebel and consider a drastic reimagining of how local share dollars are used.

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