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ANOTHER TAX INCREASE IS OUT OF THE QUESTION

As a small business owner, I am appalled at the idea of another increase in the sales tax. Even the quarter point that was recently tacked onto the "temporary" penny increase of years ago had a negative effect on our balance sheet.

I have a better suggestion than a tax increase: instead of gutting essential services, the county ought to put Medicaid payments last, not first. We need fire and sheriff's protection. We need roads plowed in the winter. And we need libraries and support for cultural activities that give the community its foundation. And, unfortunately, we need probation officers and those who staff the criminal justice system. What's left can go to Medicaid.

I'm not advocating cutting off the needy. A society is measured by the way it treats the least among us. But now's the time for local legislators to tell the state and federal leaders that if they want to "mandate" something, they're going to have to pay for it out of the broader public purse. This cycle of raising local taxes to pay for something Albany or Washington thinks is a nice idea has to end.

W. Rik Whitaker

Buffalo