Residency rule is appropriate

Legislators Jay Gould and John Runkle have a not-so-unique idea when it comes to welfare benefits for potential recipients: make sure those who are doing the taking have established a residency in Chautauqua County.

Why would that be not so unique? Because residents here already expect this with many local organizations, foundations and fund-raisers.

As we already know, Chautauqua County and its residents are a very giving community. In terms of our county foundations and non-profits, our region has the potential to assist agencies and individuals with hundreds of millions of dollars. These donations come from current and former residents who want to help those who live here in Chautauqua County, not elsewhere.

What we also do not want to do, however, is to help those who are not willing to help themselves. This resolution of a residency requirement fits that mold.

“A lot of counties have been doing this,” Gould said. “If it comes up to vote in the Legislature, we’d like them to vote for residency requirements.”

But instead of being understanding of the discussion, county officials are too often going on the defensive as they did last week during the Human Services Committee meeting.

It need not be that way. Those officials are responsible for generously handing out millions of working taxpayer dollars annually – more than $1.3 million monthly in welfare assistance. County residents are certainly not being stingy.

However, there needs to be strings attached. One of those requirements, which only seems to be common sense, is that if the person is receiving a benefit in Chautauqua County, that person must have a residency here.

We do not want our United Ways or our other non-profits funding organizations outside of our region. We donate to these organizations because we know the money stays local.

County officials must start to demand that same mindset for our welfare recipients.