Common sense reigned Wednesday in Mayville.
County legislators approved a sensible budget that doesn't include IGT funding for the Chautauqua County Home and gives Mary Ann Spanos, county Office for the Aging director, some additional resources to help senior citizens stay in their homes and out of nursing homes, which can drive up the county's Medicaid costs. In all, the tax levy increase was cut from 3.4 percent in County Executive Greg Edwards' budget proposal to .6 percent.
Then, legislators soundly defeated three business unfriendly measures proposed by Bob Whitney, D-Jamestown. Whitney was asking legislators to approve resolutions requesting the state Legislature to modify the membership of the CCIDA; request the CCIDA adopt a local labor policy for projects receiving CCIDA financial assistance; and request the CCIDA adopt a local supplier policy for projects receiving CCIDA financial assistance.
Bill Daly, county IDA director, and the IDA board already informally ask companies receiving IDA assistance on projects to use local workers and supplies with great success. Daly told Planning and Economic Development Committee members in August the IDA has lists of local workers qualified to handle work in a wide variety of areas. IDA officials fully understand the value of local workers and the economic benefit to the county of having local suppliers used on development projects. There is no reason for such a heavy-handed local regulation.
Heavy-handedness isn't the only issue with Whitney's proposal.
There are some projects on which no one in Chautauqua County is qualified to handle, which means a developer would have to waste time filling out waivers. Oftentimes, a local project will use regional labor from Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, depending on the type of worker needed, so Whitney's policy would have made it more difficult for some county development projects to benefit the regional economy. The county or the IDA would have likely needed to add positions to enforce the policy, as has happened in Monroe County. Finally, there are times it is simply less expensive to either use workers or supplies from outside the county; forcing companies to use more expensive workers or supplies will only cost the county jobs and development dollars it so badly needs.
While Whitney couldn't attend Wednesday's meeting, Tim Hoyer, D-Jamestown, tried to defend the proposals.
"The purpose of the CCIDA tax abatements is to save and create jobs," Hoyer said. "Businesses who are building buildings or are expanding are allowed to use their tax abatements to hire people from outside the county. The purpose of the CCIDA is lost. This amendment is just helping CCIDA do its job."
The IDA needs much less help in doing its job than Hoyer does in doing his job. Look no further than his repeated votes against selling the Chautauqua County Home for proof of that.
Whitney and Hoyer's thinking is just the sort of hackneyed logic that has gotten New York into its current situation of being the second-most unfriendly state in the nation in which to operate a businesses. New York state needs fewer regulations, not more. Chautauqua County is no different.
Legislators did the right thing voting down the IDA resolutions. Voting against them wasn't a vote against labor or local workers, it was a vote for common sense.