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October 2013 Column - County needs to focus on local improvements while State ranked worst for State Business Tax Climate


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

At today’s Finance and Management Committee, members of the Legislature questioned Edwin Gonsiorek, Director of Weights and Measures, whose division was the subject of an investigation by the Comptroller’s Office. Unfortunately, only...

Erie County Legislator Joseph Lorigo, Chairman of the Legislature’s Finance and Management Committee, has released the following statement after learning that the County Executive borrowed through the county, instead of the Erie County...

Erie County Legislator Joseph Lorigo applauds the East Aurora Boys and Girls Club on 75 years of service to youths and their families. The Club marked this milestone at a celebration held Oct. 25 at Knox Farm.

Earlier this year a group of resident volunteers were appointed to the Salary Review Commission to decide if they thought salary increases were warranted for Erie County’s elected officials. Upon conclusion of their review, they have...

Last place. That is where New York State ranked in the Tax Foundation’s recent study that compares all 50 states’ tax systems.

 

Operating since 1937, the Tax Foundation is a tax research group that releases an annual State Business Tax Climate Index and each year its findings rank NYS at the bottom. Visitwww.taxfoundation.org to read the entire report, which explains in great detail why states are ranked in the order they are.

 

I recently held a community meeting and was discussing this exact issue with a resident. Sadly, her reaction is probably similar to yours. She was not surprised, basically desensitized to the subject and fully expected New York State to be at the bottom every year.

 

“It’s never going to change,” the resident said to me. She was very definite in her opinion of “never.”  I am disappointed that our state has left that impression on its residents who work so hard to pay their taxes and have a life here. I don’t blame her for feeling that way. What has her government done to make her think otherwise? While there are promises within recent state initiatives, business and residents still wait for the tangible results and savings.

 

I took the opportunity to discuss changes that can be made locally to improve our section of the state. It starts with controlling the county budget. Last year the County Executive proposed a tax increase. Adding even a small percentage to one of the highest property tax rates in the nation is unacceptable. It is the exact opposite direction that we need to be moving. When it came time for the final vote, I joined a majority of Legislators from four political parties to adopt a budget without a tax increase. Businesses and residents alike benefited from that effort, keeping more of their money in their accounts to be invested in the community. Further taxing business and residents is not the solution.

 

We recently learned that the proposed 2014 budget does not include a tax rate increase. That is a good start. My focus during the budget process will be reviewing areas in which we can possibly make responsible cuts, identifying operational procedures we can improve upon, and ensuring that the most important services are adequately funded. My district relies heavily on the Sheriff’s Office for patrol and emergency response. It also has a large percentage of the county roadways. Ensuring that we are properly funding departments that are responsible for the safety of residents is and always will be the top priority. Additionally, I will look for ways to unburden  the small business community that has been struggling to thrive in Western New York.

 

If anyone has questions about the county budget or other county issues, I am hosting communityoutreach meetings on Tuesday, Oct. 22  at the West Seneca Senior Center and Tuesday, Oct. 29 at the East Aurora Senior Center.  Both meetings will be held from 9:30 am to 11:30 a.m.  You can also contact me at 858-8922 or email joseph.lorigo@erie.gov any time.