Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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December 13th, 2012

Bring Mandate Fight to Albany and Other suggestions

A room packed with frustrated taxpayers seeking leadership pleaded with county officials last Thursday night to do something about Sullivan County’s economic conditions.

The meeting the brainchild of legislator Cora Edwards heard County Manager David Fanslau explain the proposed county budget and why a 13.77 percent property tax hike was needed.

Chairman Scott Samuelson, vice chairman Gene Benson and Democratic majority leader Kathleen LaBuda, along with legislators Kitty Vetter and Cindy Gieger joined the crowd listening intently as Fanslau dispensed his famous soapbox rant blaming mandates for our disastrous fiscal condition.

The frustrated crowd wanted more than excuses and a diatribe, they were seeking revolutionary leadership with a plan to change business as usual.

Fanslau noting that New York and North Carolina are only one of two states with such mandates urged attendees to contact Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and State Senator John Bonacic to change the law.

Without a doubt Albany needs to end mandates, but what is Sullivan County really doing to change the law? Perhaps it is time we take the lead and embark on a massive publicity campaign to bring our plight to the steps of the state capital.

Sullivan County can become the catalyst and poster child on how mandates are crushing counties to death. We need to organize a caravan to take us to Albany to demonstrate the need to revamp the system. With proper organization, other counties will quickly join us, and our state leaders will begin to listen.

Those in attendance at the Liberty meeting offered a lot of suggestions that could potentially save taxpayers a lot of money. Unfortunately, it was obvious nothing would ever be done without leadership that was not fearful of repercussions from an “ole boys” network.

These suggestions, many of which I have written about, included creating a Countywide Board of Education, a Centralized District Court, video conferencing jailed inmates instead of transporting them to town or village courts for an appearance, hiring a PSI officer, costs of overtime versus hiring additional staff, overlapping of public safety agencies, consolidation of municipal services and purchasing, raising the sales tax, and forcing tax exempt properties including nonprofits such as the Center for Discovery to pay their fair share.

The biggest outcry besides the belief that Sullivan County was an easy street for public assistance programs was the need for economic development. Countless members of the audience questioned if Sullivan County was actually being marketed the right way, or if it was being marketed at all.

The IDA continually came under intense fire. Civil rights advocate Sandra Oxford hit the nail on the head when she claimed people with low skills were marketed to come to Sullivan County, not the other way around.

Gieger said Social Services Commissioner Randy Parker is making changes to ensure people who need public assistance get it, while fraud is eliminated.

As for the 13.77 percent increase, Edwards maintained her fellow legislators would be “battling the proposed budget” and would be looking to save costs and reduce the increase.

Edwards said, “We owe it to the public to show how taxes are being appropriated, and get direct feedback from taxpayers on where cuts can be made on discretionary, optional programs.”

She asked taxpayers to email suggestions and thoughts on cutting costs to

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