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It’s Time For Everyone To Come Back To The Table

To The Reader’s Forum:

We, both as a city and as a state, are in a downward spiral. Locally, bad decisions made in city governance have brought us to our financial distress. I believe that the mayor and the city council are trying to rectify past missteps, but part of that must include coming back to the table and reaching sustainable agreements.

The problem is that some city employees, including government officials, expect and rely on entitlements. We have been convinced that entitlements are owed because of the service performed. Taxpayers provide the funding for entitlements, and city taxpayers have been stretched to the point of no return – to the point that there is no way for them to continue to fund the salaries and benefits administered through the near-forty years of union contracts. We are simply not the same city, so the choice is pretty obvious. Soon, we will not be governing ourselves; the same state government that has mandated (and not revisited) laws that shouldn’t apply to upstate cities will eventually control what is left of Jamestown’s finances, and Albany and downstate legislators have not historically proven to share our best interests.

It is our responsibility. The retired and those that are near retirement from city posts enjoy and expect the benefits granted to them under the contracts, but what about new and future employees? I am asking the unthinkable: come back to the table, renegotiate and help us climb out of the hole we have dug for ourselves. The city is financially depressed. Hopefully in the near future it will regain some of what it has lost. Employees and city government have to find a solution that will be sustainable because the community deserves a chance to survive.

Entitlements are not owed and they do not come without a cost. If government were a private company, it would go out of business. Just look around at the businesses that have closed and left. Stop the litigation, stop the distrust and stop wasting the few resources that are left. We all care about our city, our coworkers and our neighbors. Mistakes have been made, but we can do better. We all have to work to make it so. That includes citizens, city employees and, of course, city government.

Andrew L. Liuzzo

Jamestown

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