When you consider some of the comments made by residents at last week's Silver Creek Village Board meeting, you begin to understand why Western New York's taxes are some of the highest in the nation.
A sampling of opinions from residents, who favor a village Police Department, included:
"I like having the village police and I wouldn't mind paying a little extra money to keep the department."
"If this county continues to exist, we must resist decline and a municipal police department is central to that. We are at a fork in the road."
"If we lose the police department it will negatively change our community and it will be the worst decision the board has made."
These statements prove that when push comes to shove, residents cannot cope. Some would rather pay more in taxes than look for regional solutions.
Change is never easy, but the status quo is a disaster - and in "decline."
Silver Creek, with a population of 2,700, is the smallest governmental entity in Chautauqua County with its own police force. That force, we might add, does not publicize crimes in this newspaper or other media outlets in Western New York though we understand there were some 14,000 - ?!?! - calls handled in the village last year.
In addition, Silver Creek is the highest taxing entity in the county. According to the Empire Center for Public Policy, the total of $44.95 per $1,000 of assessed valuation is what a property owner pays in taxes to the village. That cost includes a police department.
So despite residents' concerns that losing a police department is a "negative" and they are willing to pay "a little extra," those who currently do not live in our region and state are not willing to pay more and see the department as a negative.
Ask company officials at Petri why it will be closing. It is not because the village does not have a police department.
Ask residents who no longer live in Silver Creek why they left. It is not because the village does not have a police department.
It all comes down to one thing - taxes. High taxes lead to less investment from businesses and residents. No business investment, fewer residents.
Our applause to the current board for looking at other options rather than just "paying a little extra" for services that already exist within the county. If a village Police Department is dissolved, there will be a decrease in taxes and no one will notice, especially outsiders, the apparent crime problems the current department is not reporting to the media or its residents.
Current village services are a tremendous burden for residents. It can be done more efficiently.
Working with the county Sheriff's Department is an excellent start.