The time has come to consolidate governments
By TODD TRANUM
President & CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
Chautauqua County has 27 towns, 15 villages, 2 cities and 18 school districts. And at 12.1 percent, New York state has the second highest state and local tax burden as a percent of income of any state in the nation, second only to New Jersey (Tax Foundation Special Report, 2011). There must be a correlation.
Our population is just over 134,000 down nearly 5,000 in the past decade and down 10,000 since the 1960 census. Over the course of fifty years there have been substantial changes in Chautauqua County but no changes in the layers of government. The reality is that we are serving fewer people with the same taxing entities.
We have all the assets right here in Chautauqua County to have a thriving economy. Look around at the diversity within our economy and take a look at the natural beauty that surrounds us. We have strong educational resources. And we have great people. Let's recognize that we cannot control a whole lot at the state level. But we do have things right here in our corner of the State that we can control. What holds us back is that we are not competitive as a region. Our competitiveness is being undermined in large part by our tax structure.
Study after study has shown that reducing layers of government creates efficiencies and paves the way to reduce taxes. Reducing taxes will put us on the path to being a region that is competitive and positioned for economic growth. We must recognize that we are failing ourselves by allowing some of our elected officials to fail us. If we want change we have to demand it. If we want change we have to be willing to let it happen in our "back yard."
This past week, local government officials came together for a meeting with state officials on the potential for governmental consolidation. County Executive Greg Edwards, who pulled this meeting together, called it "invaluable." We commend him for his efforts on this crucial issue and look forward to additional steps to create governmental efficiencies through shared services and consolidations. We also commend County Legislator Lori Cornell who is working to pull together a committee with legislative and community representation to form a strategy around consolidation and governmental efficiency.
Our organizations have already taken bold steps to consolidate countywide. Over a decade ago the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce was formed. Three years ago the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier and the Manufacturing Technology Institute aligned with the Chamber to create organizational efficiencies and cost savings. And most recently, all of the Community Chambers in Chautauqua County have been brought under the fiscal auspices of the Chautauqua County Chamber, streamlining all of our operational and financial functions. We know the challenges of consolidation and have lived through them.
The Chamber/MAST stands ready now to assist in any way possible to help end the unnecessary layers of taxation that impede the growth of business in our communities.
Chamber to host County Executive's Breakfast
The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual County Executive's Breakfast on Friday, June 1 at the Chautauqua Golf Club. County Executive Greg Edwards will make a brief presentation, followed by an opportunity for questions and answers. The Chamber hosts this event each year in order to provide an opportunity for the business community to hear directly from the County Executive and to exchange questions and share concerns.
The event is sponsored by: Chautauqua Institution, Compeer, Crown Benefit Group, Cummins, DFT Communications, Jamestown Community College, Jamestown Jammers, Jamestown Mattress, KeyBank, Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York, Medicor Associates, Nestle Purina, NRG, OBSERVER, Phillips Lytle, The Post-Journal, Serta Mattress, SKF Aeroengine, and WCA Hospital.
The breakfast begins at 8 a.m. The cost is $15 for Chamber members and $20 for non-members. To register, call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101, or register on line at www.chautauquachamber.org.
Join the Chamber now!
The 2012 Chamber of Commerce Membership Drive continues through the month of May!
New members who join during the drive will be entered into a drawing for these prizes: a Sapphire GEM sponsorship ($1,000 value), membership paid for the year (2013-14 dues), and two free Chamber event passes for the year ($216 value, excluding the Annual Banquet, Golf Tournament, and Community Chamber events).
If you have not been contacted by a volunteer yet and are interested in joining the Chamber, please email email@example.com, visit our website at www.chautauquachamber.org, or call one of our offices at 366-6200 or 484-1101.