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GENERATE FUNDS TO MAINTAIN CRITICAL COUNTY SERVICES

Red and green. Traffic light? Christmas colors? No. The county budget. The red budget signifies the county budget without the proposed additional sales tax and with the elimination of libraries, museums, cultural groups and human services agencies; the green, the additional sales tax with inclusion of most of the funding for those agencies.

Both sides of the aisle in the County Legislature need to come together to ensure that such funding remains in place. Whether it is a sales tax, a property tax or a combination thereof, the funds must be generated for these critical services. I realize that both taxes are regressive. The poor in our county will be required to pay the same sales tax as the rich. A raise in the property tax will deeply affect citizens who are on a fixed or lowered income. It will take reasoned discourse from our elected officials to determine the funding mechanism that will have the least impact upon those with limited resources.

The long-term problem is the method of funding Medicaid, which is an essential program. On a recent visit to an elder care facility in the Midwest, I learned that Medicaid bills are paid completely by the state and federal government via income taxes. This is the least regressive and most equitable method of taxation because it is based upon one's ability to pay. If this were done in New York State, there would be funds for Erie County's non-mandated services.

Jean M. Wood

Williamsville

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