COUNTY LEGISLATURE TO DOWNSIZE TO 19 MEMBERS
MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County legislature will see its number reduced to 19. That after lawmakers Wednesday night voted 16 to six in favor of directing the county’s reapportionment committee to draw 19 district lines.
As expected, the action wasn’t without some discussion. Tom Erlandson (D-Frewsburg) called for reducing the size of the legislature down to 15 representatives. However, that motion was defeated by a vote of 14 to eight. In addition to finalizing the size of the legislature, lawmakers also approved a resolution calling for the creation of an Independent Redistricting Commission to help draw the boundaries for the new 19 legislative districts – based on population numbers form the 2010 census. The members of the panel were also included in the resolution. They will be Fredonia’s Minda Rae Amiran from the League of Woman Voters; Fredonia’s Kevin Sanvich – selected as a representative of the County Chamber of Commerce; Larry Barmore (R-Gerry) and Tom DeJoe (D-Brocton) of the county legislature; and citizens Michael Haddad and David Sheppard of Jamestown, Sharon Kaminski of Fredonia, and Ray Rusboldt of Dunkirk.
Following last night’s meeting, legislature chairman Jay Gould (R-Ashville) said the 19 lawmakers will have their work cut out for them because of all the committee work that will need to be shared amongst 19 lawmakers.
Lawmakers had to reduce the size of the body from 25 to at least 19 after a public referendum was overwhelmingly approved last November. The commission will have until the remainder of this year to get new boundaries drawn up. The 19 districts must be in place prior to the start of the 2013 local election season.
EDWARDS WARNS OF $14-MILLON DOLLAR GAP IN 2013 BUDGET DURING SOC ADDRESS
MAYVILLE – County Executive Greg Edwards also briefed the County Legislature last night on the accomplishments of 2011 along with some of the initiatives and challenges he has planned for 2012. In his annual “State of the County” address, Edwards pointed to several challenges facing the county – most notably a failure to get significant relief from Albany. Edwards said a lack of immediate relief from the state combined with several challenges local will once again put the county behind the financial eight ball.
Edwards also said other than increasing taxes, the county doesn’t have a lot of other options to consider to help bring down the $14 million budget gap it is facing. He said property taxes could raise by as much as 23 percent in 2013 if no further action is taken. In order to find revenue sources to trim that potential deficit, Edwards called on politicians in Albany to help out, a move he said must start with better communication and partnerships between state lawmakers and local lawmakers, businesses, and even individual residents.
Minority Leader Lori Cornell (D-Jamestown) agreed about that pressure needs to be put on Albany, but also said the legislature, too, needs to work together and come up with local solutions to offset the 2013 budget gap.
Edwards also said that residents can pressure Albany by visiting a website created by the New York Sate Association of Counties. NYSAC established the website www.mandaterelief.com to create a simple and effective way for county officials and residents to email their state senators and Assembly members, asking them to help enact mandate relief.
SALAMANCA MAN CHARGED WITH HITTING JPS BUS
JAMESTOWN – Jamestown police say a Salamanca man was charged after allegedly hitting a Jamestown Public Schools bus Wednesday morning. Mark Aldrich, 54, of Salamanca was charged with passing a red light Wednesday at 7:22 a.m. City police say the accident – which took place at the corner of Winsor and Willard Streets – involved four vehicle, one of which was a Jamestown Board of Education school bus. An 11-year-old student on the school bus sustained minor injury and was treated at the scene.
Police say Aldrich was driving a pickup truck west in the direction of Willard Street, and he was approaching the intersection and allegedly passed through the red light and hit the school bus, which was heading south on Winsor Street.
Aldrich’s vehicle then hit two other cars that were stopped on Harrison Street at the red light. The intersection was closed to traffic for 45 minutes as police and crews responded at the scene.