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Futile sales tax exercise Maneuverings did nothing to change county's operations or taxpayer angst

Here's what the effort led by Assembly Democrats to force Erie County to share $12.5 million in 2007 sales tax revenue with Buffalo and other municipalities did:

* It improved the city's income, making Democratic Mayor Byron W. Brown's job a little easier.

* It showed the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority to be a non-player, relegated to the periphery, reduced to sending out happy letters about improving cooperation.

* It showed that it took Assembly Majority Leader Paul A. Tokasz to force the County Legislature to do what it should have done 10 years ago.

* It kicked more sand in the face of 90-pound political weakling, Joel A. Giambra, the county executive.

* And it played a political shell game with money. The Assembly, under threat of doing even larger fiscal damage, takes from Erie County and gives to the municipalities. The state then increases aid to Erie County to make it mostly whole. Rancor and poor leadership give frustrated residents a repackaged status quo.

Here's what the sales tax vote didn't do:

* It didn't help Erie County's overburdened taxpayers one bit, further institutionalizing a regressive sales tax by making more parties dependent on it.

* It didn't make the so-called "extra penny" of sales tax easier to do away with, just the opposite. At this rate, can a 10 percent sales tax be more than two to three years away?

* It didn't force a hard control board, one that takes action, like the city's, to devise an improved economic picture.

* It didn't change a thing, beyond political pecking order.

Philosophically, the county needed to share the sales tax. It should have shared it when times were flush 10 years ago.

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