EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a series of articles highlighting major issues facing each of the 19 Chautauqua County districts and the legislators who preside over them.
Chuck Nazzaro said his strong financial background will aid him in his fourth term as Chautauqua County legislator.
Nazzaro, who ran unopposed in November, said he wants to work with both Democratic and Republican parties to improve Chautauqua County's economy and tax rate.
"One of the biggest issues facing the constituents I represent is high property taxes," Nazzaro said. "When you add city, school and county tax bills together the amount is staggering."
In order to lower taxes, Nazzaro said Jamestown and Chautauqua County governments must work together to eliminate duplication of services.
For example, he said, Jamestown is served by the County Sheriff's department, Jamestown Police Department and the New York State Police with Ellicott and Lakewood police departments nearby.
"They all do a great job of protecting our citizens, but a countywide policing agency should save significant tax dollars for all," Nazzaro said.
The city and county began considering a potential law enforcement agency merger in 2008, which would involve consolidation of the Jamestown Police Department and the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office, and updates were given in July on a potential model for the agency, but further updates have not been provided.
"We've been talking about this for years," Nazzaro said. "It seems like the parties involved want this to happen. It's just happening very slowly."
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Another major issue facing Jamestown is the amount of tax-exempt properties located in the city, which he said calculates to nearly 40 percent.
"We must find ways to expand our tax base by having Jamestown's Department of Development and the County IDA work closer together in attracting new businesses to Jamestown," Nazzaro said, further stressing the importance of helping existing companies in order to prevent them from moving elsewhere.
Concerning the Chautauqua County Home, Nazzaro said it is not the biggest issue facing the county.
"The biggest issue (in the county) is creating an environment to attract good-paying jobs," he said. "As we do now, we need to maintain our industrial parks and make sure we have industrial sites ready to go."
As for his district, which includes portions of Jamestown's south side, east of Forest Avenue, Nazzaro said many blighted structures need to be demolished.
"Neighborhood revitalization is critical to Jamestown. We have some of the oldest housing stock in the country," he said. "Working closer with the county's taxation department during the tax foreclosure process to prevent properties from being sold to absentee landlords is key. Progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go."
Nazzaro added that he hopes to see Chautauqua County Land Bank utilize a recent $1.5 million grant from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office to demolish blighted structures.
In the next two years, he wants to remain involved in the county budget process and work to lower the tax rate.
"If we lower taxes, expand our tax base and improve our neighborhoods, more jobs will follow," Nazzaro said.