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I was saddened to read James Hartman's comments in Viewpoints. This so-called expert due to his work on the Citizens Budget Commission says the taxpayers are all wrong: We should all stop complaining, and submit, once again, to a higher sales tax.

He ironically says this while citing the statistic that New Yorkers' taxes are 72 percent above the national average. Yet he somehow still seems surprised by the level of discontent among the citizenry.

I agree only with his main point -- that discretionary spending in Erie County has been cut to the bone. We have taken out our frustration on our elected county officials, when in fact, they have little real power and control over how they spend our money.

It is surprisingly undemocratic that county spending requirements are actually set well out of "the people's" control -- by Albany and federal mandates, by court requirements and by monopolistic public-sector unions. The taxpayers in Erie County, having won a minor victory here, need to now focus on change at the state level.

Paul Rath

Orchard Park