There is a cost and an opportunity for Chautauqua County legislators should they choose to loan money to the village of Forestville.
Approving the loan package helps Forestville taxpayers in a time of desperate need. There is another benefit, however, that could help taxpayers throughout the county. The county is insisting, as a condition of the loan, on an audit by the state Comptroller's Office of Forestville's financial records from the past five years and the village participating in a task force consisting of county officials who will examine the village's viability. Legislators are also asking Forestville to seek funding for the study.
The results of the study could aid in a decision whether or not to dissolve Forestville's government.
Forestville and Lakewood residents have both defeated measures that would either dissolve their village or merge it with a town in part because village residents aren't convinced there is cost savings and efficiency to be gained if their village goes away. As much as Gov. Andrew Cuomo claims taxpayers will benefit statewide if some layers of government dissolve, there is precious little hard data to back up his claim.
An unbiased study could be the mechanism we need to provide a roadmap of how our county should look in the years to come. Data and information that is detached from local politics is hard to come by, and this study could be an important roadmap to the future of government throughout Chautauqua County.
This is an opportunity that could far outweigh the $237,344 cost.