COUNTY FORUM Have penalty for the absent

It is not a get-together of historic proportions, but it is still an important step.

From 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, elected officials from Chautauqua County, its towns, villages, cities and schools are invited to take part in a shared services forum in the county’s Office of Emergency Services. As of late last week, about 40 representatives had signed up for the event.

In praising County Executive Vince Horrigan for holding the forum, we also ask him to take note of what municipalities and schools are not attending. With municipalities, who receive the undeserving reward of sales-tax money, maybe they can be penalized with fewer of those funds for lack of attendance in the future.

If school districts fail to show, Horrigan and his staff need to alert the state Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Cuomo is a major advocate for consolidations. If districts want to ignore a call for collaboration, they can be penalized in state aid.

Mergers and sharing of services have been driven by a process of reward. Making those events happen, such as the Chautauqua Lake school merger in 1994, reaps a financial windfall. Failing to do so, in the 21st century, needs to bring a financial penalty.

That would help put an end to the shenanigans, excuses and traditions that continue – for no good reason – an overabundance of schools and small governments in this county.