About Government Downsizing

Purpose

To let Western New York residents decide if they want to reduce the size and cost of local government.

Why

For two reasons:

First, our dying economy. We're all too familiar with our dire straits:
  • Erie County has lost 247,000 residents since 1970
  • 44,000 private sector jobs have vanished since 1990
  • 30% of people between 18 and 34 have left since 1996
  • Buffalo is the 3rd most impoverished city in America
  • Erie County residents pay the 5th highest property taxes in the nation
  • We are the only community in America whose local government failures require two outside control boards
  • We're listed among "America's 10 Fastest Dying Communities"
Sadly, each of these facts existed before our national economy plunged into recession.

And the second reason to downsize government is to increase citizens' participation and voice in their community.

I've attended 221 town and village board meetings during the past 2 years. And in every one of them, citizens are told to sit down and remain silent. In other words, our local board meetings have evolved into lectures when they should be conversations.

By reducing the number of politicians, we will return public meetings to their original intended purpose: private citizens and public servants working together to solve problems.

How

I discovered a little-know law that permits citizens to distribute petitions calling for downsizing. We employ this law by distributing petitions throughout neighborhoods and communities, and obtaining a sufficient number of signatures.

This is where you come in. If you'd like to lend a hand in exchange for less taxes and more voice, kindly click on Become A Petition Carrier and join our cause. We'll provide you with all the material you'll need to not only make a difference, but as well to make it better.

Local Government Today

With 25 towns, 16 villages, and 3 cities, Erie County has 439 elected officials - more than 10 times the number of politicians in any like-sized community in America. The cost of sustaining these 439 public servants exceeds $32 million per year. That means that over the last decade, while the rest of America grew at historic levels and we fell even more behind, we paid our politicians $320,000,000 - more than a quarter of a billion dollars.

To address this challenge, and to align local government with other local institutions that have adapted to our shrinking population - hospitals, places of worship, libraries, and businesses - I proposed that each of our 25 town boards eliminate 2 members, and all of our 16 village governments merge into their surrounding town. I also proposed that the Erie County legislature reduce from 15 to 9 members.

Tonawanda, Depew, and Lancaster have downsized. The Village of North Collins agreed to merge into its surrounding town. So far, 5 Erie County legislators have agreed to my downsizing plan.

But the rest of our politicians and governments refused my request to let people decide. As a result, we must now exercise our rights.

Local Government Tomorrow

When we succeed, we will all still have our own local government. But we will have reduced the number of elected officials in Erie County from 439 to 309, saved taxpayers $9.6 million per year, and perhaps most important, loosened the gridlock and lowered the decibel level caused by our public servants' bickering among themselves.

When I think of how great our community is - in spite of local government failing us - I can't help but think of how much greater we could be.

This effort is a first step toward the better future that every Western New Yorker yearns for, and every Western New Yorker deserves.


                   Kevin Gaughan