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Chamber Repeats Reapportionment Offer
April 21, 2011 - Dunkirk OBSERVER
Posted by Nicholas L. Dean
Following the legislature's "no" vote last night, a Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce representative repeated the Chamber's offer to help facilitate reapportionment work.
Chamber officials followed up on the verbal offer with a formal news release today.
What follows is the full text of that news release:
The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is offering to facilitate any further discussions related to reapportionment or reduction in the size of the County Legislature.
In a letter to Legislature Chairman Fred Croscut on Thursday, Public Policy Committee Chairman Kevin Sanvidge said, "While we were not happy with the process used in the past several weeks to create a 19-member Legislature, we supported the reapportionment plan as a way to reach a reduced number. We still feel that a reduction is the right move for all of the residents and businesses of Chautauqua County."
The Chamber of Commerce has been calling on the Legislature to right-size for several years, asking county lawmakers to demonstrate leadership on the issue. Although the cost savings would be limited, the Chamber believes the move would set a precedent for reducing the size and number of layers of local government.
As a non-partisan entity, the Chamber of Commerce can assist in the negotiations moving forward. Mr. Sanvidge said, "We understand that the County is required to reapportion following the 2010 Census. We further recognize that there is now a consensus among legislators interested in reducing the size of the lawmaking body. The Chamber is offering technical assistance as a facilitator to help guide future discussions and to help ease any political tensions that may arise. We want to be of service in this matter and are willing to commit staff and volunteer time to the process, at our own expense."
He further called on the Legislature to make use of the County Planning Department in the process, adding, "This process does not have to be costly, but it should be fair and equitable. The Chamber’s Public Policy Committee includes representation from multiple political parties, and we are ready to help."
Mr. Sanvidge added, "We recognize that there are other issues that must be addressed by County government, including a sizable budget deficit. There is no reason why the Legislature must sacrifice one issue in order to address another. In fact, the County Charter requires reapportionment in a specific time frame, and we can accomplish that before the 2013 election."
The Chamber of Commerce represents nearly 1,200 businesses in Chautauqua County which employ over 20,000 local employees.
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