MAYVILLE - The leader of the local tea party chapter addressed the County Legislature recently about the 2012 budget deficit.
Mel McGinnis, president of the Southern Tier Tea Party Patriots, told legislators of his group's concern with county wages - advocating for a freeze which tea party members believe would save at least $2 million locally.
"We would ask that the county consider that proposal so as to save taxpayers on that matter," McGinnis said. "As I understand it, negotiations are going on right now and we would encourage that no increase be given so that not only do the taxpayers save, but all employees may have their jobs saved."
Rev. Mel McGinnis addresses the County Legislature in this photo from the body’s Aug. 24 meeting.
P-J photo by Nicholas L. Dean
In May, the group released a list of several proposals at a press conference event, including the proposal to immediately freeze county wages.
At that time, County Executive Greg Edwards explained that he has no authority to modify contracts without union approval. However, even then, if no new contract came as a result of any renegotiations, the terms of the previous contract would still carry forward.
"Until the law is changed, while I share their desires to find every way possible to cut our costs, that is just not legally possible," Edwards said in May. "It's just not legally possible, but I share their concerns about the costs of wages and benefits."
Also at the recent legislature meeting, McGinnis pointed to officials in Steuben County, whom he said had recently made a decision to have the state pick up their entire Medicaid tab.
"They are frustrated over there with regard to these unfunded state mandates and, with this unfunded state mandate, of course, there is no mandate reform included," McGinnis said. "I would say that if the legislature here did something like that, the tea party would really be behind that because they feel the impact that the property taxes having on our citizens here and are very concerned in regards to that issue."
In closing, McGinnis thanked legislator Tami Downey, R-Kiantone, for having met with tea party members and for having helped them to understand a little better how the state and county operate.
"I feel like she lit the certain prairie fire among us and helping us to understand the constitution of New York state and how that constitution really limits us as a county to work independently rather than under the thumb screws of the state," McGinnis said. "I really see that we basically are a fiefdom of the state and we need to get ourselves loose from that. I don't know how we're going to do it, but I think the tea party across the state may be coalescing so that the county is given more power and the state from Albany is given much less power. So, I appreciate Legislator Downey for coming last night to share with the tea party."