|Thomas J. Mazur - District 8
JANUARY 13, 2009
HARD TO FIND WINNERS, LOSERS IN COUNTY BUDGET SUIT
I'm glad the budget debacle is over. Both sides won and both sides lost, and I suppose that all depends on who you talk to last. I for one would have liked to lock myself in a room with the county executive and fellow legislators and banged out an agreement, but that's not the way things worked out.
Instead, a local law firm benefited from our unwillingness to sit down and talk. I'm hoping now, since this issue got mediated by a judge in a court, that henceforward the county executive and the legislature will work out a compromise on the people's budgets. The judge simply said that the legislature didn't pass a balanced budget because the county executive's budget wasn't transparent enough.
I've always said that people can live within their budgets if you tell them immediately how much they have to live with. So, in essence, transparency equals truth. But sometimes, truth hurts and above all, it's bad for elections. The truth is that we're going to be in a big financial mess regardless of how transparent our government is. I have said this before, that much of our County budget (more than 80 percent) is mandated by the State. That equates to a huge portion of our local tax dollars. And if the State is in as bad of a fiscal mess as we have been led to believe lately, it only makes sense that some of the burdens are going to be passed on to us.
Enter a new president and this whole notion of stimulus package. I'm finding the word stimulus to be almost as interesting as the word transparent. Now what you have are a whole bunch of folks running around thinking that a stimulus package is going to get them out of their financial bind. We're already meeting with governments all over this region, putting together our projects for the stimulus package. It's going to be a HUGE package, because this nation has ignored the infrastructure for way too long. But that's OK, because from here on in that's where tax dollars belong.
Our tax dollars (in my humble opinion) don't need to be going overseas to destroy other people's infrastructures, they need to stay at home, create some jobs, and make us whole again. But, the truth is, we as a nation have to make that move honestly and openly. A shift has to be and that won't happen overnight. For now, I'm hoping that our next budget with the county executive will be openly discussed and our differences will be resolved amicably instead of judicially. Wouldn't it be nice if Erie County could be a catalyst for the rest of the nation on how to get things done for the good of all?
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