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WJTN News Headlines

In addition to a half-a-percent increase in the local sales tax... Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan is looking at cuts in the 2016 budget to resolve a nearly 6-million dollar "structural deficit."  Horrigan's proposed increase in the sales tax from 7.5 to 8-percent has received mixed reviews from the county legislature.  Some lawmakers want to see more cuts made before looking at hiking the sales tax.  Horrigan says the county was forced to lower it's sales tax several years ago... and property owners have been feeling the effects since.
Horrigan says he's also looking at eliminating "some" local share programs... and, adds they will be "painful."  He did not say where the cuts would be made.  He adds the county must continue to reduce it's costs.  He says the other major item on the 2015 agenda is getting an "alternatives to incarceration" program in place to deal with overcrowding at the jail... and, the county's drug problem.  He sys he's looking at a "supportive transitional housing" program.  Horrigan made his comments on this past weekend's "Community Spotlight" program on the five Media One Group stations.


The federal prosecutor who brought bribery charges against New York's assembly speaker says he hopes other lawmakers will now think twice about doing anything corrupt.  U-S Attorney Preet Bharara (Buh-RARE-uh) says his aggressive prosecutions of Sheldon Silver... and, other state legislators are meant to serve as a deterrent.  But... he also says reforms that bring more transparency to the political process are needed as well.  Bharara made the remarks late last week while appearing at a Manhattan forum.


Chautauqua County's representative in the State Assembly is pushing for bi-partisan support for a proposal to change the chamber's rules... making the process of selecting a new speaker more open.  Assemblyman Andy Goodell says the current process is not transparent... and, the speaker is selected behind closed doors by that party's caucus. The Bemus Point Republican wants to require the candidates for Speaker to answer questions from the members of the Assembly in open session... and, to allow members the opportunity to express publicly the reasons they supported or opposed a particular candidate.  Goodell says the proposed reforms are expected to voted on by the full Assembly later today.


A city man is jailed for allegedly being in possession of a quantity of Heroin and Methamphetime during a traffic stop in downtown Jamestown early last weekend.  City police say they pulled over a car, driven by 29 year-old Richard Philbrick, on Harrison Street shortly after 2 AM Saturday.  Officers say a background check revealed that Philbrick's license had been suspended.  While police were taking him into custody... they say he allegedly dropped doses of Heroin and Meth on the ground.  Both drugs were recovered... and, he was arrested on two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance... and, aggravated unlicensed operation.  He was jailed pending arraignment.


Environmental groups say New York needs to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fix its aging water and sewer systems.  A coalition including Environmental Advocates, Riverkeeper and the Adirondack Council is pushing for lawmakers to dedicate 800-million dollars to clean water projects around the state.  The money would come from the state's 5-billion dollar windfall from financial settlements.  Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay says New York faces a crisis if it doesn't address the problem.  The state's environmental department says New York needs at least 36-billion dollars to repair and upgrade wastewater systems over the next 20 years.  Another report estimates that the state faces $22 billion in drinking water needs.  The challenges are already obvious in cities like Syracuse, which experienced nearly 400 water main breaks last year.


State Representative Kathy Rapp from Warren County has several issues with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's proposed 2015-16 budget.  Rapp says she has tried to give Wolf -- "the benefit of the doubt due to his reputation as a successful business owner."  However... the Republican says the Democrat's intentions have never been more "transparent" than was seen in his budget address... and, individual spending line items.  She first has trouble with a nearly 5-billion dollar spending increase... which she says is the biggest increase in state history.  Rapp says the 16-percent increase includes hikes in the personal income tax, and expansion of the sales tax. She adds that she's just as disappointed in some line items... such as Agricultural Research, Promotion, Education and Exports would get no funding in the governor’s budget proposal.


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced several initiatives to boost winter tourism in the Adirondacks and persuade Canadians to shop south of the border.  A promotion called ``Ski NY Spring Break'' will offer discount skiing across the state from March 13th to 31st.  The ``I Shop NY'' campaign partners with the state's Retail Council to advertise New York stores in key Canadian markets from March 22nd to April 6th.  The Democratic governor made the announcements Sunday at the 2015 Adirondack Winter Challenge, which included snowmobiling, bobsledding and a variety of ice sports in Lake Placid.  Cuomo says the Winter Challenge, now in its second year, is meant to remind New Yorkers of the tourism and recreational opportunities in the upstate region.  Numerous state and local officials participated.


U-S Senator Charles Schumer is calling for upgrades to the computer systems used by the nation's air traffic controllers after a report found vulnerabilities to hackers.  The New York Democrat says Sunday that has written to the Federal Aviation Administration to urge the agency to immediately implement several security upgrades to protect the systems.  Schumer cited a Government Accountability Office report released last week that found several weaknesses in the computer system's handling of sensitive data and its firewall security.  He says the vulnerabilities raise the possibility that hackers could take the air traffic control system off-line while thousands of planes are in the air across the nation.