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This Mess We're In
June 14, 2011 - Dunkirk OBSERVER
Posted by Nicholas L. Dean
This is a follow-up to yesterday's blog post.
The Audit and Control Committee held a meeting earlier this month. At that meeting, legislators from both sides of the aisle gave an honest appraisal of the county's 2012 budget problem -- as did county officials such as Finance Director Darin Schulz and Budget Director Kitty Crow.
"I think at this meeting all of us have been re-awakened to exactly how bad it is and exactly what is coming," said John Gullo, D-Fredonia.
The transcript of the meeting, held Thursday, June 2, can be found online here.
Yesterday I posted a section of the transcript which quoted Schulz. He was speaking historically about the last three county executives, tax increases and decreases, the costs of county government and how things should have been handled from the beginning.
"Costs go up and taxes have been cut and they shouldn't have been, and everyone has done it," Schulz said. "But, the fact is it was done and that is water under the bridge."
Still, later in the meeting, legislator John Runkle, R-Stockton, echoed Schulz's comments.
Starting on page 18 of the transcript, Runkle had the following to say:
We had several years with tax decreases which were very unwise.
It shouldn't have been that way and we had no plan and it was an election year politics whether it was Democrats or Republicans it was election year politics.
It was wrong and it didn't make good fiscal sense and so we are in the middle of a river right now. We are stuck and that brings us to the next question is what do we do about it?
What I would like to suggest is number one we are going to have to make realistic cuts this year not like we did last year with that song and dance that we had with the budget. We are going to have to make real cuts in county services.
Number two, I am wondering if we should be looking at county services provided to local municipalities and where we can cut back there.
As painful as that might be, that is something that we should be looking at so if we can have some kind of chart devised to indicate those specific services that we would be able to cut back on. I know it is a touchy thing because everyone says well I pay taxes and what do I get out of the county budget. But, it would be nice to see that at least from my perspective.
But, John (Gullo) is absolutely right, to just go ahead and make a blanket tax increase and say there is nothing we can do that is just not acceptable.
What I would like to see is at least some significant cuts in services and programs where we can cut them and look at the services with local municipalities and where we can cut there as well. That is all I have to say thank you.
Again, the full transcript of the Audit and Control's special June 2 meeting can be viewed here.
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From left, legislators Jay Gould, R-Ashville; Doug Richmond, R-Westfield, and John Gullo, D-Fredonia.