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By Lucinda Collier
Chair, 21st Century Committee
Supervisor, Town of Rose

Lucinda Collier
   LYONS (OCT 20 10) – (Note: This is the complete text of Lucinda Collier’s address to the Wayne County Board of Supervisors’ meeting yesterday. Her committee has been instrumental in providing the analysis and reasoning for the cessation of the county-run curbside recycling pick-up program at the end of the year, and for the probable sale of the County’s Certified Home Health Agency. Her audience was the board of supervisors and, through WayneCountyLife.com, the public. – John Addyman) 

   Over the past few months, I have heard questions and misconceptions concerning the 21st Century Committee. As chairperson of this committee, I would like to reacquaint you with the reasons for its establishment and remind you of the tasks with which it is charged. This is not meant to be a synopsis of the work done by the 21st Century Committee, but rather an understanding of its responsibilities and procedures. 

   When the government of New York State began to realize the financial predicament it was in, it began to look for revenues to cover its budget deficits and huge debt. Cutting back on expenditures also seemed a plausible solution, and monies paid out to counties in the form of reimbursements seemed a likely source. The fact that the state had mandated the counties to provide these reimbursed services was overlooked, as well as services and programs that had been encouraged, though not mandated, through the cost coverage of participating counties.
   And so the state began its purge. Some reimbursements were cut altogether; some were cut back; some were simply not remitted; some were lessened by changing the reimbursement guidelines and rules; and some were lessened or eliminated by increasing the scrutiny of audit functions (thus, when finding an error, applying it to the whole reimbursement request). These cuts continue today and more are promised in the future.
   When the state began this reduction of reimbursements, this county board of supervisors could see the state was shifting the burden of fiscal costs to the counties and while that might help control state taxes, it would increase county taxes. As the former supervisor of Savannah, the Honorable Donald Colvin, often said, “We taxpayers are going to pay – it’s just going to come out of a different pocket.”
   Because supervisors are obligated and committed to being fiscally prudent with taxpayer dollars, the Wayne County Board of Supervisors reasoned that this county should not, could not, and would not just automatically make up for the state-denied financial reimbursements. Instead, it would go beyond the normal and usual reviews of department functions and financial audits, and would take a hard look at the need for those services, those programs and those departments.
   It was the consensus of opinion that this was our fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers of this county. We knew it would mean more time and more effort on our part; we knew county employees would feel threatened; we knew people would resist changes to the services they had come to expect; and we knew that the process, if done correctly, would open us up to criticism, anger, polarization and personal anguish.
   We knew we would be damned if we did and damned if we didn’t. So, we decided that if we were to err, we would err on the side of being fiscally prudent and fiscally responsible.
   With that said, the 21st Century Committee was formed. The County Administrator and Management Team were directed to add the analysis functions to their regular ongoing responsibilities, and the process began. I must say that it had been all we anticipated. The time spent by supervisors and administrative staff has been considerable; analysis has produced divisiveness, misconception and accusation; self-serving individuals and special-interest groups have attempted to thwart the process; and the efforts and intentions of the supervisors have been maligned.
   However, this board of supervisors will not be deterred from our fiscal responsibility, and the process will go on. You know we could simply take a red pencil to the budget. We could demand across-the-board cost reductions, eliminate non-mandated expenditures, abolish departments and lay off employees. But to do so, without looking at the associated effects on the people in this county, would be unconscionable. So, a study process was established and is being followed, no matter how arduous, demanding or unpleasant.
   Therefore, at the direction of the board of supervisors and designation by the chairman of the board, the 21st Century Committee will continue to do in-depth analyses of services, programs and departments. We will continue to assess cost effectiveness, management efficiency and employee productiveness. We will continue to examine the public’s needs for government-run services and make comparisons with the private sector’s ability to provide the same.
   We will continue to see public input and will welcome non-committee supervisor participation; however, we will not allow the process to be rushed or circumvented. It will be an intentionally purposeful, comprehensive and objective assessment. Studies may take many varied courses: some may proceed quickly, while others may have interruptions or lengthy postponements; some may require full-board decision, while others may require administrative or departmental action only; and some may be determined to need no change at all.
   In September, at a special board meeting, one of those studies (on recycling – editor) came to conclusion. Relevant data had been gathered, analyzed and discussed. Opinions of the public were voiced and the issue was turned over to the board of supervisors for decision through the established democratic process of the will of the majority.
   Next month, another study (on the Certified Home Health Agency - editor) will be turned over to the board of supervisors for decision, and once again each of us will cast our vote according to our own analysis of the data and our own course of conviction. Following that, the 21st Century Committee will undertake another issue and the process will resume. For it is only with in-depth study that this board of supervisors can fulfill its obligation to be a fiscal steward of Wayne County.


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  1. Anonymous Said,

    The proof will be will tax rates go down, period for an extended period of time and not a one year thing where they put a few million from surplus to lower the rate for a year and then take credit for the lower rate. By the way the reason there is a surplus was because they over taxed us in previous years. Hope they succeed.

    Posted on Wed Oct 20, 06:06:00 PM EDT

  2. Anonymous Said,

    You continue to cut programs which actually BENEFIT the taxpayers - while adding FAT to the county government in the form of more high paid Administrators and Aides to the administrators - and you call it fiscally responsible. Is that some kind of Zen riddle? No - wait - I think it is called HYPOCRACY! I cannot wait for then next County Supervisor elections!

    Posted on Wed Oct 20, 10:36:00 PM EDT

  3. Anonymous Said,

    You wait for the next election and expect change. Oh yes you must be young because when I was young I use to think things would change but I can already tell you what the election will bring. The winners will be whoever the local republican causcuses nominate. No I am not a democrat I am a lifelong republican but I have to admit the republican party in Wayne County has no one to blame but itself. Oh I wish it wasn't true but it is.

    Posted on Wed Oct 20, 11:47:00 PM EDT


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