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February 8, 2012 - Jim Walton
Where did January go? Here we are in February 2012 and I’m still writing the wrong year on checks. The political scene keeps getting stranger and stranger. On the national playing field I keep wondering who will be driving the Republican clown car in the fall elections. We haven’t seen a more unstable and unelectable group of people vying for the top post in the land since Michael Dukakis. Whoever advised him that looking like you were driving a tank was good for your image might want to reconsider the decision.
Locally the impasse between the CSEA and the County Executive looks to me to be more of a political move than the desire by the administration to make thing better for us lowly taxpayers. The four year deal, the Exec. claims he needs, would eliminate the problem of negotiating during a re-election bid. Not political at all. How can it take two years to negotiate a deal that would save the taxpayers 1.7 million dollars?
What’s really sticking in my craw is the feeble efforts by the various Chautauqua County school districts to discuss mergers and centralizing of services. This is a no brainer. Eighteen school districts with eighteen superintendents all at or above six figures is driving us all broke. I’m not nearly as concerned about local and county taxes as I am about the size of the budgets and tax levies of our school districts. How can those poor children in Warren County Pennsylvania ever get an education with only one school district for whole County? Aren’t all of the districts in Chautauqua County teaching out of the same syllabus set forth by New York State? Is it ever going to happen by the people who have no interest in being part of a larger and better education system that eliminates duplication of administrations, facilities, and yes, teachers. We could put all of the students in Westfield, Brocton, Panama, Clymer, Ripley, and even Bemus Point in the Chautauqua Lake Central School and probably not have to build a class room. Have you seen this place? It’s gorgeous and incredibly underutilized.
Now comes the question as to how do we do this. If Representatives Andy Goodell and Joe Gillio, and Senator Kathy Young are really interested in getting to the root of the problem they need to draft legislation that will issue directives to all of the counties in New York State to consolidate. Here’s the way that you lay that out. On January 1st of 2014 each and every county in New York State will have only one school district per county. The only exception would be in cities that have populations of 250,000 or more. They could have their own school district.
If you really want to get to these types of savings you can’t do it by trying to engage the local folks to give up what they perceive as local identities, local team identities, and some perception of control of their children’s education. The only way consolidation is from above the political subdivision being consolidated. Does anyone remember a decade or so ago when in Canada a decision was made in Ottawa that Toronto and everything that touched the then borders of the city would be incorporated into that city? All of those towns and subdivisions have maintained their identities and have enjoyed the savings of having central control and administration of their essential services. It would have never happened if they were all given a choice to remain independent of consolidate.
Not a bad Idea for New York State. First off we have too many levels of government. In their wisdom the founding fathers of the State decided that if there were Cities, Towns, and Villages in other states why not have all three. A first step would be to dissolve all of the Villages in New York State into the Towns that surround them. Frewsburg is a good example of this in Chautauqua County and the Village of Randolph dissolved into the Town of Randolph on January 1st. The next logical step is to have all towns that have a common border with a city in the state dissolve into the adjacent city. Does the term “Constitutional Convention” ring a bell?
Getting back to Chautauqua County, how can logic prevail in the resolution of the Count Home controversy? You have a gas well that needs to belong to someone else besides the County Home. Sell it to a third party who will do the tending and sell the gas to the County home so it can get reimbursed. As part of the purchase price the provider pays the county a royalty. The County uses those proceeds to offset expenses it pays for the Home. Who was the genius that decided not to put up the money late last year for the county home that would have been matched dollar for dollar by the State. I think the number was $450,000.00.
Speaking of gas wells, why doesn’t the City of Jamestown have gas wells drilled on its vast park lands that could run the turbine at the BPU?
I have to stop now before my head explodes.
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