County and town association excludes villages

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 December 2013 at 12:00 am


For 30-plus years a local government association has excluded a village representative from its leadership and also in setting the group’s monthly agendas.

Even the group’s name, the Orleans County Supervisors and Legislators Association, doesn’t include the villages.

I don’t think the group intends to slight the villages. Frankly, it’s just the way things are done around here. The county and town leaders put themselves on a level above the villages. That seems to be the attitude.

In Genesee County, the legislators meet with town and village leaders in an inclusive Genesee Association of Municipalities. The GAM gives everyone, including village mayors, an equal seat at the table.

The Orleans group meets monthly at the Village Inn to discuss issues in the county. It is co-led by a county legislator and town supervisor. This year Legislator Bill Eick of Shelby and Carlton Town Supervisor Gayle Ashbery shared the leadership. The group has other officers from either the county or a town. The towns tend to take turns finding a speaker each month.

Village representatives are invited to the meetings, but they don’t have a leadership role. They don’t have a say in the agenda. They aren’t treated as equal partners in the governance of the county.

This group started after the former Board of Supervisors was eliminated through a lawsuit and the county government shifted from the 10 town supervisors to a seven-member Legislature.

The association formed so the towns wouldn’t feel too removed from the goings on in county government and other issues facing the community.

It was a good idea to get the towns and legislators talking. But clearly it is wrong to not have the leaders of the villages as part of the group’s leadership.

I strongly recommend the Orleans County Supervisors and Legislators Association change its name to be more inclusive, change its leadership structure to include a village representative, and change the way it does business so the villages can have their concerns on the agenda.