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MERGERS: Town suddenly forgets benefits

We know Dunkirk Town Board member Phil Leone was speaking from his heart because he certainly was not using his head. During a recent meeting, Leone discussed his lack of enthusiasm for government mergers.

While speaking, Leone highlighted the current financial state of both the city of Dunkirk and the village of Fredonia. The city is facing an $18 million deficit while the village is more than $1.5 in the red. He claimed, “We seem to be the only fiscally responsible town in western Chautauqua County.”

There is no debating that. What we do disagree with Leone on is the statement: “I think we have a good reason not to consolidate.”

With that statement, he’s ignoring the current contracts and working agreements that benefit the town and can be considered a consolidation:

— Sheridan shares its Highway Superintendent Jeff Feinen with the town of Dunkirk.

— The town pays the city of Dunkirk on an annual basis for routine patrols.

— Town residents are billed for water use through the North County Water District.

— Mutual aid calls for town volunteers are answered at times by the city Fire Department.

So yes, Town Board member Leone, you are correct with the fiscal realities. As a town, you do not face the big-ticket items such as police or fire department — or its legacy costs that plague the city and village. But the town benefits from a system that allows it to contract for those services.

Without the assistance of larger entities that are providing services and the water, the small town would be sinking. That’s one more reality for Leone to consider.

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