Editor, The Spotlight:
The Albany County Charter Reform Committee has completed its work and forwarded its recommendations to the County Legislature. There is much to be considered; but the one suggestion that will receive the most exposure will be the proposal to downsize the legislature to 25 members.
As Minority Leader I support downsizing, but I do so with conditions.
First, downsizing must save the county money. Legislators cannot be given salary increases as a condition or result of downsizing. Other counties have provided such increases because legislators allege new districts have more residents, therefore their work load increases. This must be avoided if the County is looking at real reform and cost savings.
Albany County residents already pay enough taxes to keep government operating. Asking more of them is wrong, and if legislators ask for more they deem themselves to be self-important, which they are not.
Second, legislative staff cannot be increased. Such action will also increase costs.
Third, every effort must be provided to make certain that new legislative districts are drawn up by a bipartisan, independent committee with an equal number of Democrat and Republican members. Redistricting should take place at public meetings with public input.
In conclusion, if the Albany County Legislature is truly looking out for the residents of Albany County, it will downsize and not increase legislative salaries or staff. The personal interests of legislators must be put aside and the interests of taxpayers and residents must be the highest priority.
- Lee Carman
Albany County Legislature, Minority Leader