Rochester, NY-- CSEA Unit 7420 President and Monroe County Local 828 VP Ove Overmyer addresses the Monroe County Legislature at the public forum before the full session meeting, December 10, 2013. He did so on his own behalf. Here are his remarks:
After considerable review of Maggie Brooks’ Monroe County Budget proposal for 2014, it appears that this year’s misplaced priorities are just more of the same. Not honoring longstanding municipal agreements between Monroe County and the City of Rochester is no solution to creating a balanced budget that shares the pain. In fact, it’s reprehensible the County would even consider such a thing, knowing full well the City budget fiscal year is already in full swing. By not honoring chargebacks for pre-arraigned detainees at the downtown jail and for upkeep of traffic devices, in essence these longstanding binding written agreements are being ignored. Brooks is basically telling City residents you are disproportionately going to pay extra (2.5 million annually) for all these County services above and beyond other County residents.
Moving money away from public safety initiatives and social service programs like defunding child care is not only bad news for our poorest families, it does not make fiscal sense nor will it improve the local economy. In a rather ingenious and deceptive way, this budget shifts more financial burdens on City government and its residents while County government once again obfuscates its responsibility. Furthermore, city residents and businesses not only pay full county taxes-- they also pay the highest percentage of Monroe County imposed service charges over and above the county tax burden.
While we understand the stated goal of the County budget is to not raise County taxes, this plan would do just that. So please, stop believing the Brooks administration is holding the line on taxes. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You don’t have to be a mathematician to know every budget for the past 10 years takes it out on our working families and the most vulnerable citizens in our community, while at the same time, enriches the lives of a small minority of folks who are basically insulated from any financial harm. She uses the County budget as a personal strategic weapon—defunding anything and anyone who she sees as a political adversary and propping up the local GOP Party at the same time.
Budgets are basically moral documents—and once again, this job killing deceptively unethical budget fails to address our most pressing social issues in the most fiscally responsible way. This budget also comes on the heels of a study conducted by The Rochester Area Community Foundation which lists Rochester as the 5th poorest city in the United States. This outcome is no accident folks. This is the direct result of willful choices by lawmakers like you. And, if you haven’t noticed, Rochester is the epicenter of Monroe County. Our fates are inextricably linked whether you personally approve of it or not.
But then again, you folks sitting on the GOP side of the aisle already know all of this.
I’m not foolish enough to think that this public forum will change your heart or your mind. I know that nothing I say, or for that matter, what any other citizen might say here tonight will change one single line item in this budget. That, above all else-- is the saddest commentary about our County government and local state of affairs. But then again, you already know all of this—but thank you anyway for my 2 minutes.
Overmyer is a Monroe County taxpayer who happens to live in the City of Rochester.