Niagara Gazette — According to the Public Policy Institute 22 out of the 25 highest taxed counties in the nation are in New York state with Niagara County ranking No. 2 on that last, right behind first place Orleans County. The list is calculated on “property tax rates as a percentage of home value.” Clearly we have a tax problem in Niagara County and throughout New York. That tax problem has to be addressed because it is encouraging residents and businesses to leave, not love, New York.
The county’s 2013 budget is $322 million. County government includes, in part: the Sheriff’s Department and the Niagara County Jail; Social Services and all of the state mandates and programs that go with it; the Highway Department and all of the roads and infrastructure that county government is responsible for; the Health Department; Economic Development and the IDA; Purchasing; Budget; County Court; County Clerk; Probation; County Treasurer and a laundry list of buildings and grounds and parks including the Niagara County Golf Course. County government touches a large part of our lives and consumes a significant part of our tax dollar.
Our legislative district is home to the only hazardous waste landfill in New York state. Some people have advised me not to discuss the landfill. I’ve been encouraged to stay away from the landfill subject for fear of disturbing both its supporters and those who are concerned about its environmental impact. I didn’t decide to seek elected office so I could hide from the tough issues or avoid the difficult decisions.
I’m not going to pretend I have an easy answer to the landfill situation or easy answers to any of the other many issues impacting the First District. But with the support and input of our district voters I am confident that we can work to make Niagara County government open, responsive, and fiscally responsible.Chris Ferrante, a candidate for the First District in the Niagara County Legislature, lives in the town of Lewiston with his wife and son.