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Everybody's column

Residents of Williamsville will decide if price is right

Government is complex. Taxes are complex. Deciding to sign a petition or voting to dissolve the village cannot be taken lightly.

The Village of Williamsville Citizen Study Group, in conjunction with the University at Buffalo Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, has spent the last four months sorting out the facts. Our goal is simple -- let informed people decide how they want to be governed based on the value of the services they receive and the cost.

Village residents are not double taxed by the town and the village. Village residents do not pay as much in town tax as town residents. Village residents pay a village tax for the services provided by the village (sewers, water, garbage, fire protection, roads, plowing, parks, trees, events, etc). Village residents pay a town tax for the services provided by the town (police is the best example).

On a house assessed at $159,000, a Village of Williamsville resident pays $170 more a year than a Town of Amherst resident. The $170 difference can be attributed to the cost of sewer, water and garbage in the village, but it also represents tax dollars spent on quality-of-life services. It does not in a significant way represent the cost of the mayor or trustees who are .4 percent of the budget.

With the cost established, the question is now framed, "Is $170 a year worth the services and representation received?"

Christopher Duquin

Village of Williamsville

Citizen Study Group

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Will Lee try to repeal new health care law?

Congressman Chris Lee owes his constituents complete clarity about his position on health care reform. In a recent telephone town hall meeting, he claimed that his Republican alternative (H.R. 3970) to the recently passed health care legislation outlaws the denial of coverage because of a pre-existing condition. However, this claim is untrue. Lee's bill only incentivizes states to offer such "universal access" health insurance plans and thus does not outlaw the denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Sadly, Lee voted "no" to the historic Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), which became the law of the land last week. I now call on Lee to state whether he is in favor of the repeal of this legislation and its monumental provision that does makes it unlawful for insurance companies to deny coverage to children and adults with pre-existing conditions.

Anthony J. Macula

Geneseo

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Closing parks hurts many while saving little money

We have a family of six and we absolutely enjoy our parks. Our household has a limited income due to the fact that my wife needs to care for our four small children. We have not taken a vacation in many years due to our limited resources, but we do substitute our vacations by visiting local parks. Our children enjoy the beach, playgrounds and trails.

The proposed state budget cuts for 2010, which include closing our parks, punish those of us who work hard to pay taxes and invest in our community. If the parks close, we will have nowhere to go during the summer and for our "stay-cation." Our children desire exercise and exploration outside. We do not wish to see our kids trapped in the house during the summer watching television. Parks promote healthy living by giving people a public place to walk, exercise and swim.

We understand that we need to make sacrifices due to budget issues, however, closing parks has the greatest impact on people and saves the least amount of money. I'm also afraid that once we start this, it will take years to reverse this trend, if ever. Parks might permanently shut down and private developers could eventually buy the land from municipalities. Tuscarora State Park has a beautiful beach and I'm sure many would love to get their hands on that prime real estate. Please avoid this potentially disastrous situation. Please preserve, protect and fund these valuable resources for prosperity and the sake of our children.

Sean Kelley

Youngstown

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Hold people accountable for abhorrent behavior

The recent display of racist and homophobic activities by tea party activists at a Washington, D.C., rally should not go unnoticed, as it reveals what this group is really all about. Hate groups always seem to be able to find a way to justify their behavior, and in this case the tea party bigots have found comfort in the perception of high taxes and big government. Their yearning for "the good old days" includes not only a return to small government, but also to a small-minded view of who should participate in that government.

Some will argue that spitting and yelling epithets at black and homosexual members of Congress are isolated incidents that are not representative of the tea party movement. Perhaps, but any constructive message will be, and should be, overshadowed by the destructive elements of this group. The television and radio personalities who incite this angry mob as a perverse form of entertainment should be held accountable, as should the stations that pay them. Political aspirants seeking to harness tea party anger for their own gain do so at their peril, and deserve to go down with that dreadful ship.

Mark O'Brian

Buffalo

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Let's declare bankruptcy, void state's union contracts

I have an idea on reducing the state budget. What I would do is file for bankruptcy. This way, we can break the stranglehold the state's unions have on us. We could bring salaries and fringe benefits (health care and pensions) in line with the public sector. We all have taken a hit in these tough times. I think it's not unreasonable to expect the same from a work force fully supported by taxpayers.

It seems they feel they are immune to tough times and all that needs to happen is to raise our taxes. I have yet to hear anyone say: We understand the issues facing New York and we would like to help. We have been extremely fortunate in having a compensation package well above the national average, and we understand that these packages are no longer sustainable. Perhaps when the state is on sound financial ground, we will be able to revisit and adjust accordingly.

This would go a long way in reducing our state's deficit and getting labor out of dictating state policy, which only benefits the unions at the cost of the state's taxpayers. It's time to take the state back and make it a good place to live and raise our children.

Rick Fisher

East Aurora

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Zyglis has become a world-class artist

Regardless of one's politics, all must agree that Adam Zyglis' caricature of President Obama is superb. He has matured into a world-class artist.

Robert Alt

North Buffalo

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