County: Contract not state-mandated

How soon Chautauqua County leaders forget.

On Sept. 30, this corner took offense to Legislator Chairman Jay Gould’s remarks to WDOE in preparing the 2014 county budget. For those who forgot, here was the sound bite:

“We control very little of our actual budget,” he told the station. “Most of it is state-mandated. I want to say 13 percent, but I’m not even sure it’s that much that we control locally anymore.”

Gould, R-Ashville, parroted much of what former County Executive Greg Edwards would do – blame the state for whatever poor decisions the county may have made in the past.

Fast-forward to the last meeting of the County Legislature when lawmakers had full responsibility regarding pay raises for its employees. Gould, who made excuses last fall, was one of 12 lawmakers who approved the six-year contract that is $1.7 million more than the previous contract for jail employees.

Those who voted “no” were all from the north county, which is reeling after the announcement of 425 jobs being eliminated by next February. Those opposed included George Borrello, R-Irving; John Runkle, R-Stockton; Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan; Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk; John Hemmer, R-Westfield; and Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia.

Salaries, we should note, are locally controlled. About 33 percent of the county budget is comprised of that, much more than the “13 percent” pointed out by Gould.

Next time you hear the words “state mandate” coming for a county lawmaker or official, remember this action.

In passing this contract, they gave up some local control regarding spending. State mandates had nothing to do with it.