Erie County commissioners are losing credibility with voters when it comes to taxes and tax hikes. Two years ago commissioners offered an ill-conceived sales tax hike to fund an ill-conceived county drug task force, and, oh yeah, maybe also build a jail with the extra dough.
Commissioners offered the tax hike without any concrete plans for a task force, or a jail expansion, and voters rejected the measure by a wide margin. And they still have yet to come up with a plan to address overcrowding problems at the county jail.
Now commissioners come knocking again; this time asking voters to pony up $1 million a year to fund the Erie County Care Facility. In the real world where government revenues are shrinking and the cost of everything is rising, commissioners failed again to explain to voters why this is the tax hike is the priority -- especially when there is someone interested in buying the nursing home and taking it off the taxpayers' books altogether.
Voters are likely to reject this tax, especially since it will be competing with tax increase requests from school districts and municipalities across the five-county region. But a tax hike is not necessarily the answer to funding issues for the Care Facility, which serves an important need in our community.
If commissioners asked for a thorough review of operations at the facility, they didn't share that information with the public. If that review included proposed cutbacks that might assist in bringing the center out of the red, that wasn't shared with the public, either.
Instead the answer they provided is all too typical from county leaders: More money, more money. But the message taxpayers have been sending to elected officials for more than a decade has a louder and more resounding ring: No.
The county must make hard cuts across the budget, just as school districts in the region have cut and streamlined their budgets for years. The public demands accountability and slapping another tax hike measure on the ballot falls far short of that goal.