Blog

15 Dec
11

Elmira’s 17% Tax Hike Is Related to Chemung County’s 2013 Unilateral Decision to Redistribute Revenue

I was at City Hall this morning for the unveiling of Elmira’s 2018 Budget, a proposal that includes a 17% increase in property taxes in order to address a $2,500,000 budget shortfall.Pages from 466918

The fact that Elmira’s fiscal health is in dire condition should not surprise anyone who lives or works here, and the reasons that led to it are complex and multifaceted. However, Chemung County’s 2013 decision to redirect sales tax revenue from the City of Elmira and the other local municipalities and into its own coffers needs to be part of the discussion of how we got here and what we are going to do to remedy the situation. Creating a scenario where our City government is forced to increase taxes by 17% while the County government simultaneously boasts of its 13th year without a tax increase is no way to do business if we have any hope of recreating a strong, vibrant community that we are proud to call home.

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15 Dec
0

Accountant Asks What Proactive Steps the County Is Taking to Avoid Budget Shortfalls.

ELmira

In a letter published by the Elmira Star Gazette on December 8, 2017, Dustin Sramek — a resident of the Town of Elmira who is employed as an accountant at Kennedy Valve — questioned what the County is doing to address its dwindling reserves:


Mr. Cornelius Milliken’s response to the editorial by Ms. Christina Sonsire was rather aggressive toward an individual that in her article cited facts from the 2018 Budget Workshop and brings out important questions.

Milliken’s response did nothing to help address those issues brought up in Sonsire’s article and appeared to merely serve as a way to twist words. Milliken states, “She attended a public workshop … and from that concludes that the proposed 2018 budget was of ‘serious concern’ because it does not increase your taxes.” The point of Sonsire’s article is asking what is being done to be proactive in dealing with the issues of budget deficits leading to a decrease in reserves. If nothing is being done, then the only option is to raise taxes.

Milliken at least points out that the county will face financial threats in the coming years, and he states, “luckily, the county has a proven history of focusing on challenges and working creatively to find solutions.” To me, this has yet to be seen; otherwise, reserves would not be decreasing at the rate identified by the budget director. Right now is when the “financial threats” need to be mitigated, when we need new creative problem solving, when need action by the right people.

Reposted with permission of Dustin Sramek

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15 Dec
0

Zoning Board Member responds to Leg. Milliken, Urging Local Leaders to Talk Openly about Chemung County’s Finances.

Anthony Pucci, a member of Veteran’s Zoning Board who recently retired after teaching English at Notre Dame High School for over 40 years, offered his thoughts about the way business is being is being conducted in Chemung County:


county seal

In her “Your Turn” opinion piece in the Nov. 26 issue of the Star-Gazette, Elmira lawyer Christina Sonsire shed some light on the deepening fiscal crisis facing Chemung County. She concluded her piece by suggesting that the community and its leaders recognize the problems and “start talking about them.”

Unfortunately, in his “Your Turn” response of Dec. 3, Chemung County Legislator Cornelius Milliken chose a different approach, erroneously claiming that Sonsire wants “to increase your taxes.” In fact, he made this false statement not once, but twice.

Nowhere in her comments did Sonsire advocate a tax increase for Chemung County. On the contrary, she wisely suggested that our county government recognize that serious financial problems exist and that these problems “need to be addressed.” Milliken’s response to the very important issues Sonsire raised was to caution readers to “beware the spectator at a workshop.” Perhaps we should beware the elected county official who chastised her for merely raising them.

In fact, Milliken has been aware of Chemung County’s fiscal issues long before Sonsire published her “Your Turn” piece. In a Nov. 14, 2016, Star-Gazette article titled “COUNTY WARNING: Chemung may need a future tax raise,” Chemung County Budget Director Steve Hoover stated in response to a question by Milliken that our taxes would likely need to go up in 2019. The reason? Our county continues to spend above its means year after year after year.

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15 Dec
0

Legislator Responds to Calls for Discussions about Chemung County’s Fiscal Health.

Cornelius Milliken, Chemung County Legislator for the 7th District, replied to calls for open discussions about Chemung County’s fiscal health with this response published in the Star Gazette on November 30, 2017. 

Please click the link above to read the full Op-Ed.

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15 Dec
0

The First Step Toward Solving Problems is Talking About Them.

This post was published in the Elmira Star Gazette on November 26, 2017:


As Tip O’Neill famously quipped, “all politics is local.”

Although much of the focus over the past year has been on what is happening nationally, there are pressing matters at home that also demand our attention. One of those is Chemung County’s fiscal health, and last week’s workshop on the proposed 2018 County Budget revealed just how serious the situation has become.

According to County Executive Tom Santulli – who presents a fairly rosy picture of Chemung County’s economy in his written narrative that accompanies the proposed budget – 2018 is projected to be the 13th consecutive year that the county has been able to either lower or maintain the tax rate for its residents. Not raising taxes is something that pleases nearly everyone. However, it comes with a steep price that ultimately must be paid.

And this is precisely where the problem lies.

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