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One local result could impact Hamburg, Evans

As voters went to the polls on Tuesday in the Southtowns, their decisions were mainly Federal, state and one county race (with the exception of Boston voters who had an unopposed Town Clerk race).

That does not mean there was not a couple of local results that those in Hamburg and Evans were not keeping their eye on.

Voters in West Seneca and Alden had important choices to make those days. Do they keep their respective town boards at three members, or increase it back to five? Those communities decided to remain at five.

It was three years ago that voters in Hamburg followed a trend in West Seneca, Alden and Orchard Park and opted to reduce in size. In 2012, the Hamburg Town Board reduced to three members and it has provided headaches and serious challenges.

Right now, the board is in the middle of its budget season. Instead of being able to present a budget filled with cuts, Hamburg Town Supervisor Steven Walters started the process by including all department head requests in it.

There was no bouncing ideas off fellow board members this year. If any two members of the board had communication about the budget outside of a meeting open to residents, putting themselves in violation of open meetings law.

Three years ago, Civic Activist Kevin Gaughan spearheaded the movement to downsize the boards to reduce the size of government and save taxpayers money.

The movement had a lot of momentum once the initial vote to downsize in West Seneca was passed.

But now there is a movement to “rightsize” the boards, and it is something that voters locally will need to keep a close eye on.

If Alden and West Seneca voters passed referendums to bring the boards back up to five members, then the momentum could have started to swing toward Hamburg and Evans.

Ultimately what was saved was about $40,000 in a budget of about $40 million in 2012 in Hamburg, which has a population of about 57,000 people.

Although the referendums in West Seneca and Alden did not pass on Tuesday, this does not mean the idea should be given up in Hamburg and Alden.

What we do not want to see happen however, is for those who currently hold elected offices to place the item before voters as a referendum. This movement – done by the voters in 2009 – must be done by them again.

Among those we expect watched closely are the Hamburg First Democrats, who formed nearly a year ago. One of their goals was to see the board return to five members.

At a time when costs, including skyrocketing retirement figures, are getting out of control, residents would benefit from having two more elected officials who can offer ideas and insights to help keep taxes at a controllable rate.

We need more thinkers, not less, during a time when creating a budget is becoming increasingly more difficult.

There were many important decisions that were made on Tuesday. It ranged from President of the United States to Erie County Clerk. All very important to our readers.

But the size and structure of our local governments for the long-haul may be impacted by Tuesday’s results as well.

• The Sun would like to take the time to salute all of our veterans, both active and who have served our country, for their dedication and commitment.

We enjoy personal freedoms each and every day that are often overlooked, but is part of what makes the fabric of the United States of America such a wonderful place to live in. On Sunday, Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day will be filled with many salutes and ceremonies throughout the area. The Sun has a listing on Page 26, and we encourage you to take time out of your day and attend one of them.


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