MAYVILLE - A local law amendment that would require a supermajority vote for fund balance appropriations has received mixed reactions so far by lawmakers.
The County Charter amendment was discussed this week during the legislature's Administrative Services and Audit and Control committees.
Majority Leader Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, said he was indifferent to a super majority requirement, but said all lawmakers should have a say on the matter. Barmore said he was approached by Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk, after June's legislature meeting regarding the amendment.
"Whenever we have some found money or whatever, we seem to go nuts spending it," he said.
The amendment would require two-thirds of the legislature, currently 17 votes, to transfer funds out of the unappropriated, unreserved fund balance not allocated in the budget. To pass the amendment the legislature would need a supermajority, as the law deals with the County Charter.
"I told (Ahlstrom) at that time I didn't know whether that was something I wanted to support or not, but I certainly felt it had enough merit that we should put it through committee and discuss it with the entire legislature," Barmore said.
When opened for discussion in Administrative Services, Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia, immediately announced he would not vote for the change.
"To me this just sounds like we are just protecting ourselves from ourselves," he said.
"Well sometimes that's what we need to do," quipped Barmore.
"Personally I don't need to be protected from myself," Scudder responded. "So I am going to vote against it."
In June, the legislature voted to appropriate $50,000 out of the county's fund balance to the Chautauqua Lake Association for weed harvesting. The county also dipped into its emergency funding pot in the amount of $30,000 to find additional resources to battle an aggressive weed season. Both allocations were contingent upon matching funds from the lake association.
Lawmakers in May also agreed to appropriate $1.36 million of the fund balance to the County Home.
"I have a conflicting view of this (amendment)," said Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott. "... I don't know if we really need this."
Added Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton, during Thursday's Audit and Control Committee meeting, "I'm very concerned and I have been any time monies have been found ... It becomes a Christmas candy and everyone starts grabbing."
County Executive Greg Edwards, like a few legislator weary of the amendment, said it was unfortunate lawmakers had to protect themselves from their own actions.
"I think it's unfortunate that we have to add more laws on the books to help people do the right thing," Edwards said recently. "We're looking at creating more legislation when it should be obvious we shouldn't be spending our fund balance unless it's an emergency."
The amendment failed in Monday's committee but passed Thursday's.
Discussions also took place in committee this week regarding a local law change that would provide an amnesty period for renters to comply with county tax law.
The amendment, sponsored by George Borrello, R-Irving, would give renters until Dec. 31, 2012 to register, collect and remit the county's 5 percent occupancy tax.
"It would be the path of least resistance to get people to register and start paying those taxes," Borrello said.
Both local law amendments will head to the legislature floor for a vote next week.