News

Regional Solutions Make Dollars and Sense
Date:  3/6/2017
ArticleType:  Chamber News

Regionalism may sound like a contemporary buzzword, but it can be both a solution and a forward-thinking move for a number of local governments and school districts.  In the past four months, two villages in Chautauqua County have voted to dissolve into the surrounding town governments.  After a vote last November, the Village of Forestville is dissolving into the Town of Hanover, while the Village of Cherry Creek will be dissolved into the Town of Cherry Creek after a vote taken in February.  In December, voters in the Village of Sherman decided by a slim two-vote margin, that they would not dissolve the village into the Town of Sherman.

The critical issue for these small government entities is the increasing cost of doing business.  All levels of government are working to try to save money at a time when costs are going up and when New York State, rightfully, is focused on encouraging governments to remain within the two-percent tax cap. 

Meanwhile, the Panama and Clymer School Districts are engaged in a similar process.  They have agreed to move forward with a feasibility study to review issues including enrollment, curricula, transportation, taxes, and state aid.  The two districts have been sharing a superintendent for some time now, creating a cost-saving move previously unseen in Chautauqua County.  We commend these two school districts for taking this next step, which is required by the State Education Department in any school merger discussion.

In the meantime, one long-debated move toward shared services continues to languish:  the proposed consolidation of the Jamestown Police Department and Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department.  We recognize that consolidating public safety is a challenging process but we encourage the leaders involved to continue to move the process forward.

Calling the property tax “the most burdensome tax to homeowners and business owners,” Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a measure that would require county officials to create plans to coordinate, share, and eliminate duplicate services.  These measures would go through a public hearing process and would be put on the ballot as local referendums in the November election, giving voters an opportunity to have a say in controlling their own tax burdens.  The focus would be on creating recurring savings and not simply shift tax burdens.

Consolidating government or service entities is vital to the success of our region.  One of our key goals is to advocate for positive change with a focus on reducing taxes.  Not only does that create a stronger business climate, but it enhances economic conditions for all of our residents.  We are pleased with ongoing efforts in Chautauqua County and the work of the Regional Solutions Commission formed by County Executive Vince Horrigan.  We strongly encourage local governments and school districts to continue to review ways they can maintain needed services while saving taxpayer dollars.

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