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County Tax Increase Guaranteed
June 16, 2011 - Dunkirk OBSERVER
Posted by Nicholas L. Dean
Budget work is underway.
Members of the Audit and Control Committee acknowledged that fact earlier this month, as well as the fact that it's better to begin the work now than in October.
At that meeting, legislators and county officials gave an honest appraisal of the tough financial situation the county's currently in.
"I'm glad we are beginning this now instead of in October," said Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown.
Nazzaro is a legislator who has gone against his caucus when it's come to certain fiscal matters. He was one of two Democrats, along with Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton, who voted recently with Republicans to request a sales tax increase of the state.
State Senator Cathy Young, R-Olean, ultimately said "no" to the idea. Had the sales tax rate been increased beginning Dec. 1, the county would have netted more revenue next year -- helping to offset the 2012 budget deficit.
Nazzaro continued on in his comments at the June 2 meeting to point out that another property tax increase is inevitable. The County Legislature raised its property tax rate in the 2011 budget after several years of decreases.
"I know this is going against my caucus because I am in the minority but if anyone knows me, I do what I think is right," Nazzaro said. "I will say that I have been caught up in full election year budgets and that stuff, but we are going to have to have a tax increase. If anyone sitting in this room thinks we are not going to have a Property tax increase they are delusional."
The full transcript of that meeting is online here.
According to County Finance Director Darin Schulz, no amount of cutting by the county executive and the County Legislature will stop a tax increase from happening:
From the transcript:
The smartest people out in the general public are ignorant to what we have to do as a county.
They don't care, realize, understand, or appreciate that we were at a certain taxation level just 4 years ago and that was here and our expenses are here and our taxation was here.
We were running balanced budgets and we weren't using fund balance. Here is our taxation and I am talking Sales Tax and Property Tax and it is here now yet our expenses are here and they are not here but here as 18 million dollars.
If we were to eliminate the entire Sheriff's Department, plow roads only for 12 hours or not plow them and say we eliminate the entire DPF, we still are raising taxes this year.
So, those are the only things that we can control and administratively there is nothing to cut. We can't cut Medicaid and there are some things coming out in the Health Department that you have seen in the press that is saving $200,000 and it is requiring layoffs and requiring a significant reduction of services.
You can eliminate the Office for the Aging in its entirety and you would save $800,000 and you would lose 4 million in services. I am just throwing that out there.
Mr. Gullo is correct because something has to be looked at and addressed. But, I am a realist and the fact is if you whittle away a couple of million bucks I think you have done really well.
Without wholesale elimination and talking 200 plus layoffs do you know what 200 plus layoffs will do to this county the unemployment rate? It is not going to be 8 percent, it is going to be 10 percent. Then, those people are going to leave this county and you are going to have higher foreclosures and less property value and it will keep snowballing.
I am not saying that government spending is all good but I just wanted to say that with what or before Mrs. Kindberg presented her legislation, Kitty (Crow) and I were already about two weeks before she presented that legislation we told the county executive we need every department to provide all inventories of services and the employees and the local share and mandated or non-mandated.
The legislation is making us do this service because you can look at the budget and you see a local share that doesn't mean anything. You need to know if that is individual services mandated or not.
That is what we provided and Mrs. Kindberg is on the same track is what we were thinking. We were already working on it and her legislation is excellent and Kitty has provided you with the rough draft and you will have the rest of it to look at.
That is what you need to focus on and don't even look at the stuff that is mandated I mean obviously you want to look at it but don't waste your time on it. It doesn't matter and I have to pay that Medicaid bill of $556,000 every Tuesday no matter what.
It is not going to be $556,000 next year it will be over $640,000 a week next year. So, don't even talk about that, talk about the little things that you can cut and that is going to be Sheriff, Roads, OFA, and Veterans and that is about it.
You are talking about a couple of million bucks.
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Legislators Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown, and Jay Gould, R-Ashville, are pictured in this photo from last October's budget review process.