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Voters approve Oneida County legislator cuts

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Voters approve Oneida County legislator cuts
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Voters approving major changes for Oneida County lawmakers. Six positions are being cut from the legislative body, and not everyone is pleased. YNN's Cara Thomas says some leaders are worried the decision will damage the county's government system and its citizens.


ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. -- From 29 to 23, Oneida County residents voted to reduce its board of legislators by six members. It passed by more than 20,000 votes.

Gerald Fiorini, the Chairman of the Board, said, "Yesterday's vote was positive, overwhelmingly, and we're pleased about that and I want to thank all the voters."

The payoff for taxpayers is $50,000 in savings. Fiorini says leaders have been looking for ways to cut costs. They began by eliminating all health benefits for legislators, saving them about $240,000. Now, there will be fewer members.

"We reduced cost and size. Now I hope we do better in efficiency and getting more legislators involved in this government," says Fiorini.

But some legislators don't agree. They say these six cuts won't save them that much money. Instead, they say cuts should be happening elsewhere.

Frank Tallarino, a county legislator, said, "You're going to save $50,000? Well if you're going to cut the budget then you ought to consider cutting the county executive's staff, that's $600,000."

That's not all Tallarino doesn't agree with. He says by reducing the board, districts will be too large for one legislator to cover. He's worried some Oneida County voters may have lost their voice.

"Whether you were Democrat or Republican and you supported this yesterday, to support this cut you have doomed the fate of ever seeing a two party system in Oneida County government in my view," says Tallarino.

Either way, the board of legislators will be moving forward with the plan. The board chairman says a bipartisan committee will draw up new district lines. There will be about 10,000 people per legislator. New district lines will be put in place by the 2013 election.

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