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No perfect solution to resolve budget deficits, but added penny in sales tax would help

Posted 18 September 2020 at 8:23 pm

Editor:

I would like to respond to a letter submitted on September 15th, 2020. First I would like to say; YES I went to college and received an undergraduate degree, YES I am currently in a MBA program, NO I have not undergone “progressive indoctrination” and NO I do not have a “fawning love for government,” as the writer claims.

I will not resort to defamation, personal attacks, and baseless claims in response. The writer and I agree on many political issues, this happens to be one we do not agree on.

I am fully aware of what the $0.01 increase in sales tax would amount to on larger purchases. I do not like it. I do not want to pay it. However, it is necessary given the current economic circumstances.

This increase will significantly reduce a county budget deficit. Additionally, revenue generated from this increase will not be “footed” by only Orleans County residents and taxpayers. People travel from out of the county to make purchases within the county, including large purchases, such as vehicles. This would reduce the fiscal impact county property owners could see because of a larger increase in property taxes. I am not arguing this is the perfect solution. There is no perfect solution. Instead, I am arguing this is the most practical and reasonable solution.

In an earlier letter I submitted, I acknowledged some employment cuts are inevitable and necessary.

Some county employees are already seeking employment in other industries and the private sector to avoid potential job loss. The principal argument of broad cuts to county government sounds good in terms of cutting government spending. However, it is impractical and inefficient.

The overwhelming majority of county positions are related to state mandated programs and public safety. Additionally, broad cuts to county government would be detrimental to the local economy during an already fragile economy.

The economy functions on supply and demand. Cutting hundreds of county jobs and transitioning to a part-time labor force would significantly affect the demand side of the economy. People would be out of work and unable to spend at the levels they typically do, causing a decrease in demand.

This impact would then result in negative implications for businesses within the county that rely on consumer spending to stay afloat. A reduction in consumer spending would result in reductions in revenue for local businesses, worsening the economic conditions and putting more jobs and businesses at risk.

Unfortunately, when the state requires programs, the county must provide them, whether the county wants to or not. The alternative is to tie hundreds of thousands of dollars up in litigation that could continue for many years, costing county taxpayers more money. The continuous fiscal failures are at the state level, under the failed leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New York State continues to mandate programs, cut funding to counties, and spend more at the state level. Unfortunately, the county is burdened with the added costs.

I do believe county leadership has handled this unprecedented time in a professional and effective manner. From my perspective, CAO Welch and other county leaders have been transparent with county employees and the public about the economic circumstances and potential solutions to the problems posed.

Covid has been a true test of leadership, and county leaders have stepped up, from the CAO to the legislature, Sheriff, department heads and other elected officials. This will be my last letter about this topic. I do not believe I am all-knowing. I simply wanted to provide my opinion. I hope we can all come together for the greater good of our community.

Respectfully,

James C. White

Village of Medina