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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Not Time To Cheer Yet

Last night the Lewis County Board of Legislators demanded further cuts from their beleagured Department heads. This is in an attempt to reduce the tax increase to zero and thwart criticism of their hoarding of 14.6 million dollars (this the correct figure- not the watered down 11 million dollar figure often repeated) of taxpayer's money in the fund balance.
While certainly hard pressed taxpayers will rightfully cheer a halt to property tax increases, we should look at what happened last night before we stand up and applaud.
Steep cuts in department spending were already made before last night. Some of the cuts that have been asked for may involve programs that produce revenue, meaning that cutting them produces no net savings.
A massive cut of nearly 25% was demanded of the Election Board. While I doubt this is possible, if it does occur it will be an illusion. Why? Many of Election's services are mandated, and whether the County budgets for them or not, they still must be performed. The bills will still come in and will still need to be paid for. From where? The contingency fund. Taxpayers savings? Zero. Meanwhile due to these "cuts", the Fund Balance, our taxpayer money, the Legislators slush fund, has grown still larger.
While cuts to reduce taxes can be a good thing, this Board of Legislators is at the point of hurting services to our the very same time it is hoarding our money.
It appears that too many on the Board of Legislators are too willing to be led by people that have either a grave misunderstanding of who that Fund Balance belongs to, or that have an agenda that causes them to wish to hoard taxpayer's dollars.
Maybe they want to spend more money on consultants to do still yet another Comprehensive Plan, or fund another special interest motel study, or sue the DEC or hire a high priced Syracuse law firm to defend an illegal law from a lawsuit brought by a self represented citizen.
Maybe, they just don't know what the heck they are doing.
Whatever their issues are, the taxpayer issue must remain focused. Lewis County can afford to apply a significant amount of Fund Balance to the budget and reduce our taxes.
It's our money...and we want it in our pockets.