County Leg Reform? Costing You More

4 Mar

The Erie County Legislature’s reform coalition, which enabled the Republican minority to become a de facto majority, had pledged to be fiscally responsible and save the taxpayers money. They clamor for legislative downsizing, the closing of district offices, and other incremental baby-steps that might save literally tens of thousands of dollars.

Not the biggest chunk to take out of a $1.1 billion budget, but every little bit helps, right?

Not so fast.

A report from the Erie County Comptroller’s office finds that there has been reform, but not necessarily the kind everyone expected.

One would presume that a group of legislators whose drive to reduce their own numbers and to close district offices would ensure that the ranks of the staff would also be reduced, and that salaries would – at the very least – stay the same for those who remain.

The resolution that implemented these changes promised that they would “result in immediate [and future] savings to the taxpayers of Erie County”.

The 2010 budget enacted by the prior legislature allowed for 17 central staff positions and 20 district staff positions at a total cost of $1,219,464.

The reform coalition’s reform? 16 central staff positions and 17 district staff positions at a total cost of $1,262,305.

Factoring in the raises given to some staffers, the net increase to Erie County taxpayers is $42,841.

As political philosopher and chicken rotisserie salesman Ron Popeil would say, “but wait! There’s more!”

There are also two vacant legislative positions budgeted at almost $80,000 that still exist in the county’s employee database, and a new hire for the Republican minority will be eligible for a $2,672 raise in 2010 which is not budgeted for.

So, when all is said and done, the net impact on the county budget from the reform coalition’s alleged reforms is a net increase of $121,958 – a total of $1,341,422 to pay people to help serve a legislative body that exists almost exclusively to pay well-connected people $1,341,422 and rubber-stamp Albany mandates.

The Republican legislators have indeed closed their district offices, which may result in a savings of $60,000 per year in rent and utilities. They didn’t concomitantly omit funding for the staffers who manned those offices, however. They’ll just be moved downtown.

So, in quite literally its first act as a “reform” coalition, it bumped up the legislature’s budget by a net 5%. The savings derived from the closing of offices merely acts to halve the cost of new patronage hires, and raises for certain positions.

For a legislature that is fundamentally a useless exercise in ministerial futility, this is outrageous. Given the position we as Erie County taxpayers are in – living in a dysfunctional high-tax county in a dysfunctional high-tax state – it’s an insult. To me, it underscores the fact that no one in this political cesspool is serious about real reform, or cost savings.

At least one of the people in the cost-hike-coalition is running for higher office. Tim Kennedy ought to have to explain day in and day out on the campaign trail why it is that he voted to impose an extra $120k upon the taxpayers of Erie County so that connected friends and friends of connections could get jobs and raises.

It’s as disgusting as it is outrageous. Shame.

2 Responses to “County Leg Reform? Costing You More”

  1. Peter A Reese March 5, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    Stop disturbing us with cold, hard, ugly facts. I was just enjoying the warm buzz that “reform” had me on.


  1. Outrageous Agendas and Statusquoisms | - March 7, 2010

    […] County Leg Reform? Costing You More ( […]

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