We don't call out the Niagara County Legislature often because, despite the misdirected rantings of a couple of ill-informed newspaper people, the county is well run. Taxes are going down for the third straight year, services are being maintained and the Legislature is continuing to downsize county government. That is exactly what I want from my government.
When it comes to perks, the county is bare bones. We've alluded to the fact that in Niagara County, legislators only make $15,000 per year. There are no paid staffers, other than a couple in the legislative clerk's office who serve all legislators, as opposed to our neighbors to the south in Erie County who make $45,000, with taxpayer subsidized district offices and staff.
But the premise of supplying each legislator with taxpayer funded laptop computers, as being considered by legislator Pete Smolinksi, is ludicrous. While we commend the county's efforts to contain expenses, this is one that we cannot support.
Smolinski says that having a laptop will reduce the massive amounts of paperwork legislators get because they can pick and choose what they want to print. You need a laptop for that? Wouldn't a desktop serve the same purpose? And in this day and age, what legislator doesn't have at least a desktop?
If you need a laptop to make you a more effective and efficient legislator, go buy one. My employer didn't pay for a laptop for me, but I went and bought one myself. My laptop, case and jump drive came to under $600. With the 12 months interest free financing, it was $50 a month. Legislator's pay is $1,255 a month. Suck it up and buy your own.
With the state and country, as well as many of the people of this community facing significant financial crisis, now is not the time to even be considering this.