County charter: Get acquainted
To the editor:
The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors decided that Montgomery County requires a new form of government -- a charter. To this end, the board of supervisors appointed a commission to create this charter. The commission chairman, F-MCC President Dustin Swanger, Ed.D, believes that this commission created a new commendable form of county government with which you, the taxpayer, should acquaint yourself. He is also confident you will find this charter a solution to all and any problems the county taxpayers face. In the Sept. 13, 2012, Recorder, he advises that this charter will not create another layer of government ... well except perhaps for the new county executive, nine legislators and their staffs. The current supervisors will remain as heads of their respective towns/wards. I strongly urge you to acquaint yourself with this new form of government. However, as you read the charter documents ask yourself why we need this, what unintended consequences may arise because of its institution and what are the additional costs this governing system will impose on the county taxpayers. After you have completed your due diligence, go vote.
Don't block mandate relief
To the editor:
Recently, I called on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his conference in the Assembly to stop blocking mandate relief efforts in New York state. I also called for a special legislative session to take up overdue mandate relief measures for schools, upstate towns and taxpayers. Unfunded mandates are created when Albany forces local governments and school districts to create or expand a program without paying for it. Mandates drive up property taxes, hurt schools, and lead to larger local budget deficits for upstate taxpayers.
This is a big issue that Sheldon Silver and his Assembly conference have failed to deliver on. Silver and his members have blocked every attempt at comprehensive mandate relief and one simply needs to look no further than the economic condition that our state is in as evidence.
Schools are going broke. Towns are filing for bankruptcy, cutting critical services and exceeding the tax cap. Sheldon Silver and his conference who preside over the Assembly are simply out of touch with the concerns of upstate taxpayers and families.
I have always been a staunch advocate for mandate relief. In my 17 years of experience, as a two-time chairman of the board of supervisors for Montgomery County, and as the current Minden town supervisor, I understand the strains on localities attempting to do more with less.
In June of 2011, I joined Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb and his conference, including Assemblyman George Amedore, to call on the state Legislature to pass overdue mandate relief, specifically medicaid reform. Earlier this year, I was invited to participate on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Mandate Relief Council, where they would use some of my recommendations to shape mandate relief policy and reforms.
In Montgomery County, we haven't been waiting for Albany to act. In fact, we took the lead in working to reduce our costs and control government spending. Local governments and school districts have been forced to deplete fund balances to stabilize taxes and to provide programs and services that are mandated by the state. The reality is that we have already tightened our fiscal belt -- now it is time for Albany to do the same. Taxpayers need a break from these out-of-control taxes caused by Silver and his Albany insider friends. The Legislature intends to give itself a raise but it can't lift a finger to reduce property taxes for millions of Upstate residents? Enough is enough.
Here's an example: Approximately 70 percent of Montgomery County's $96 million budget last year went to pay for unfunded Albany mandates. Medicaid alone cost Montgomery County $12.5 million in 2011, half of the county's total tax levy.
Albany keeps avoiding the main problem and placing the blame on middle-class public-sector workers and teachers and their collective bargaining agreements. We need to attack the real problem. The high cost of Medicaid is driven by an out-of-touch ruling class in state government.
Leader Kolb and his conference have repeatedly offered solutions to pass comprehensive mandate relief for our schools, local governments and taxpayers. Over and over again, the votes are along party lines -- with members taking their orders from Speaker Silver and his New York City bosses. Albany spends, upstate pays.
This has to stop. We need independent thinking in Albany, not someone who will be a rubber stamp for Silver and his New York City conference in the Assembly. The voters of the 111th need a representative who already has a proven record of working across party lines to achieve solutions for taxpayers and who can start on day one. When I am elected as your assemblyman, I will continue to work with the governor, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, Leader Kolb, George Amedore and the rest of the Legislature who are genuinely committed to delivering unfunded mandate relief to balance budgets, cut taxes and save jobs.
Thomas L. Quackenbush,
The writer is a candidate for office in the 111th Assembly District.
Use a natural resource to boost the economy
To the editor:
After visiting many Adirondack towns and discussing the local issues, the concern on most people's minds is the lack of jobs or opportunity in the area.
The northern part of our state, which includes the Adirondack Park, is a very beautiful and untouched area. However, the strict restrictions and regulations imposed by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in order to protect the park and designate sections of it "forever wild" is in my opinion hurting the local economy.
When we have over 6 million acres of preserved parkland with one of the largest timber and wood reserves in the United States but we are not utilizing this natural resource to help jumpstart the local economy in my opinion is not a wise use of our natural resource. It is my belief that if we loosened up some of the restrictions within the Adirondack Park in order that some timber can be harvested by selective cutting and sold, you create the environment for lumber and timber companies to come into the area employing local people.
As an environmentalist myself, I am not saying to cut down all the trees and clear entire areas but for a forest to be healthy it must be thinned out and properly maintained. We are sitting on a natural resource that is not benefiting anyone by leaving it forever wild.
We need to remove some of the restrictions imposed by the APA and the state in order to allow this natural resource to help revitalize the local economies within the Adirondack Park. There is a need for more wood throughout the world, why should we not be a major source for this commodity and at the same time help revitalize our communities.
Just has important is the allocation of cell towers within the Adirondack Park. This is a vital need in our modern world and can help save lives in an emergency situation, let alone for communication. These issues should be key for north country towns to move forward into the future. It is my intention, if elected, to make sure these issues are addressed.
Also, but just has important, is the issue of state campgrounds closing on Labor Day. From talking to several campground owners it would be much more beneficial to end the season on Columbus Day since there are still many tourists and visitors in the area in the month of September. By keeping these state campgrounds open you are again keeping local businesses open to serve the needs of the people visiting the area and having additional revenue coming into the area. This is a common sense issue that makes financial sense and will be done if I am elected.
Please feel free to contact me at (315) 866-3474 or visit my web page at www.ChilelliForAssembly.com to see my platform for change.
The writer is a candidate for office in the 118th Assembly District.
Thruway toll hike would crush business
To the editor:
Trucks and commercial vehicles use the New York State Thruway to provide goods and services to millions of people every day. The Thruway is the main gateway into and out of Amsterdam, as well as a majority of the surrounding capital region. In May of this year the New York State Thruway Authority announced a proposal to raise truck tolls by 45 percent.
In an August report from the Office of the State Comptroller it states, "The proposed 45 percent average toll increase for commercial vehicles would unavoidably have a negative impact on commercial trucking companies and truck drivers operating in New York state, sending ripple effects through the state's overall economy."
Today, for example, a full truckload (FTL) traveling from Amsterdam to Boston costs approximately $725. With the 45 percent proposed toll increase the cost will rise to $1,051. A $326 increase, when multiplied by the number of inbound and outbound deliveries throughout New York state, becomes a staggering number. This number is unbearable for many small businesses, and is at best going to hinder their growth, and at worst going to close their doors for good.
The proposed 45 percent increase will only further impede an already struggling New York state economy, and will endanger thousands of jobs, and vital employee benefits throughout the state.
I urge residents and business owners alike to please join us in requesting this toll increase not be passed by contacting their New York state delegates.
The writer is president of NTI Global, Amsterdam.