Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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August 26, 2013

Napoli 'speaks for small towns' in front of state committee

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — While the president spoke at the University at Buffalo last week, Ridgeway Town Supervisor Brian Napoli was busy speaking, too.

Napoli was invited to testify in Buffalo in front of a state Senate committee hearing on fiscal and financial stress in local governments. According to him, the only true “small town” represented Thursday was his: Ridgeway.

“I told them I spoke for all small towns, because we need a voice, too,” Napoli said.

He went to the meeting prepared with two lists, one short and one long, since he did not know how much time he would be granted. He also provided the state officials in attendance with a packet of information to support his remarks.

A few city and town officials from Erie and Niagara counties also spoke to the committee, but Napoli said they seemed almost too excited to speak with any purpose.

When his turn finally arrived, Napoli went with his short list of eight topics he felt were of the utmost importance to small municipalities across the state. The topics were the property tax cap, unfunded mandates, broadband access, assessments, DEC/EPA regulations, a proposal on tax reform, opposition to the SAFE Act and the Highway Trust Fund.

In his written explanation handed to the state officials, Napoli explained his points.

For instance, the tax cap, he wrote, “creates an undue burden on local municipalities while making the State look good” and it “does not create any mandate relief.”

Regarding mandate relief, Napoli said a law should be created with a provision that “if the state cannot pay for a program at the state level, they cannot pass it on to the local municipalities.”

With schools increasing their online presence, Napoli said broadband access is a necessity not just for job creation, but for students in rural districts.

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