Costly errors persist in area

If we all had the “disposable income” our area municipal governments do, we would not have to worry about turning the Western New York economy around.

Think about recent spending sprees – that were not mandated or needed – by municipalities that have been recently approved:

Forestville gave its new employee a $2 an hour raise to run the streets department even though Charles Brewster has no previous experience.

At its organizational meeting, the town of Dunkirk gave its employees a 3 percent raise even though major employers in the area are shutting down.

That same town also is preparing to renovate its town hall even though it has other options.

The city of Dunkirk has increased its rate of pay for its new fiscal affairs officer when compared to the previous candidate. It also increased – by a large amount last year – the cost of its attorney by about 180 percent.

Fredonia purchased $98,000 worth of water from Dunkirk when nobody was looking.

The village of Silver Creek – population of 2,700 and decreasing – is looking for a new police officer because the officials claim they are “understaffed.” After the word on Petri’s, shouldn’t the village rethink any spending?

When individuals manage household finances, there are consequences to overspending. You could lose your house, car or file bankruptcy.

In government, however, those consequences are much different. There are no rules because it is not the trustees’ money.

When you overspend, you simply blame someone else for boneheaded decisions, then you raise taxes. When you raise taxes, however, you hurt your biggest contributors – businesses and community residents.

No matter how bad things have gotten in northern Chautauqua County over the last 40 years with layoffs and industrial crises, residents can count on government to keep their machines at full throttle, even if there are better and more efficient ways of delivering services residents need.

Continued poor decisions, even 3 percent pay raises, are not acceptable in this economic climate. These workers should feel lucky to have a job and benefits, not bemoan what they are earning.

All area leaders need to work together – across borders – to find solutions to these problems.

Thinking a building renovation in a small town or the addition of a police officer in a shrinking village is needed proves the disregard officials have for those they are supposed to represent. Our region is reaching a tipping point.

Leadership has been cowardly to change or stand up for what is right. Each new budget boards approve, it is a step in the wrong direction. It keeps the region on the same path that produces the same results.

It is a path of destruction.