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Measure to cut heating fuel tax passes, 15-10

A resolution to eliminate the home heating fuel tax was passed by the Chautauqua County Legislature Wednesday night following some heated debate.

The revised measure holds communities harmless if revenues drop dramatically. The vote to eliminate the local 4 percent tax was 15-10 in favor, with all Democratic lawmakers backing the resolution.

But Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards said he will veto this resolution, as he did the first one.

Edwards said he will create a committee to look at tax cuts that would help most people in Chautauqua County.

"I'm now forcing elected officials like myself to take the hard line, to take the comprehensive look that we do without taxes. I've said it from the beginning, and I will continue to say it, that this heating tax cut may be part of the final solution."

Edwards said he was disappointed with the personal attacks against him during debate over the measure.

"They elected me to make the difficult decisions, and I'm in the midst of making a difficult decision, and I won't be swayed by people that tell me that I'm dumb or boneheaded or that I'm stonewalling. I won't be forced into a rushed decision," he said.

Edwards had the support of most of his fellow Republicans, including former Minority Leader James Caflisch, who believed the matter has been rushed.

"I don't understand the bum's rush we're giving this when we need to see a little more about what the state's going to do. We also need to go back and take a look at the property tax and what it's done to the homeowners of Chautauqua County," he said.

Majority Leader Charles Cornell, who sponsored the resolution, said, "Dialogue has taken place and then some, but now is the time for action. Now is the time for the county executive and the minority leader to take a position on the issue. Wait and see is not a position. The time for talk has ended; the time for decisive action is now!"

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