My first question was about consolidation and downsizing. Mr. Runkle responded that he favors consolidations only if the affected services are not diminished and costs do not increase. Mr. Runkle stated that the two criteria must be met to garner his aye vote. He used the proposed countywide assessment as an example. While the buzzword "consolidation" elicited favorable thoughts of less cost and more efficiency, the fact of the matter was that just the opposite would be true, that the proposed consolidation would cost county taxpayers 179 thousand dollars more.
As for downsizing the county legislature, Mr. Runkle stated that several of his questions needed to be satisfactorily answered before he voted yes. He questioned why 15 legislators were proposed and not some other number. He asked how the county would be re-apportioned so that rural districts would have a balance of power with the cities. And he wondered what the rush was. Why not wait for the 2010 census to be completed so that a more accurate population demographic could be used.
He also spoke of the need to negate political turf wars and gerrymandering, proposing a citizens panel to establish the new districts and ensure a balance of power. And, finally, he would have to be sure that downsizing would not upsize the cost of government.
And then he added something else doing away with the Legislature, and its costs, entirely. Mr. Runkle proposed going back to the Board of Supervisors form of county government whereby the Town Supervisors, plus the mayors of Jamestown and Dunkirk, are assigned weighted votes and then do the People's business regardless of party affiliation. He called this a purer form of government with the most direct means of representation. "If it could be shown that this or downsizing would benefit our county and the people of my district, without raising costs, I would vote in favor of either one," he stated.