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SUBMITTED by Vicky Daly, Village of Palmyra (27-Jan-2011)

Conversation with the Mayor

I pulled out my beat up, held-together-with-a rubber-band paperback dictionary to find its definition of mandate. The American Heritage Dictionary, gives as its first definition of mandate “an authoritative command or instruction”. If you are given a mandate, you’d best comply. Mandates are much in discussion at the moment because of the financial situation in which we are living. Something has to change and change soon – on all levels.

The mandates in discussion here are those imposed by the federal government on the state and/or local governments and by the state on the local governments, be they county, town, or village. Note, that villages have no one to whom they can issue mandates. This is not what Harry Truman had in mind when he said “The buck stops here”, but that is exactly the case.

So what do we do besides tighten our local belt even more? We get together and we talk to the people who can make the changes – our state and federal representatives. Four County School Boards Association sponsored a gathering in Phelps recently at which representatives of both municipalities and school districts discussed measures to make things better. NYCOM (New York Council of Mayors), which represents cities and villages across the state, has had an ongoing initiative, You Can’t Cap What You Can’t Control. Other state wide organizations and agencies have undertaken similar educational campaigns. Virtually everyone has the same concerns and wants our financial situation to be addressed and improved, but there is a problem.

We all have different priorities and that is neither good nor bad; it just is. We all agree cuts should be made and mandates in some areas eliminated, but want our own areas held safe harmless or improved, untouched by changes and reductions. As a result, nothing happens; the situation doesn’t improve. The Village Board will face this quandry as we work on next year’s budget. We know we have to look at the big picture and realize that everyone must bend. We are also mindful of the fact that this is not just our money, but the residents’ money. Theodore Roosevelt is reputed to have said “ You do the best you can with what you’ve got where you are.” That is our goal.

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