Erie County Legislature Chairman John J. Mills today subpoenaed the six members of the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority’s (ECFSA) board after they ignored a resolution passed unanimously by the Legislature asking for a public discussion with board members to fully vet the $120 million borrowing plan for ECMC, which the ECFSA approved on Wednesday, March 15th in a 5-1 vote. The subpoenas were given to Ken Vetter, ECFSA Executive Director at a meeting of the Finance and Management Committee.
The subpoena compels the members to attend a special informational meeting, scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 21. Legislators want to have the discussion prior to the Legislature voting on the Declaration of Need that is needed to allow the ECFSA to conduct the borrowing. The Legislature could take up the Declaration of Need as early as next Thursday.
“I attended the ECFSA’s board meeting on March 15 and was disappointed how casually they are approaching this significant borrowing plan. Though many were hearing the County Executive’s plan for the first time, they asked zero questions. We need to have a public discussion on this matter so that a real conversation can take place. The Legislature voted 11-0 on a resolution that asked the ECFSA Board to speak at a committee meeting and they refused to have a public discourse with Legislators, despite our several offers inviting them. We have tried since late February to get the ECFSA Board to appear before the Legislature. I am now utilizing my authority to subpoena the board. In my three and a half years as Chairman, I have never used this authority. I do not take this action lightly, this issue is that important,” said Chairman John Mills.
The ECFSA was created following the “red-green” budget crisis during the Giambra administration that resulted in county department budgets being slashed, employees being laid off, parks closing and county services being decimated. The ECFSA was created to independently review county finances, including the budget of the County Executive and decisions of the County Legislature, to insure the county does not head down that path again. Four members are appointed by the Governor, one is appointed by the New York State Senate, and one is appointed by the New York State Assembly. Though they are a state authority, Erie County and Erie County residents fund the control board to the tune of almost $500,000 a year for staff and administrative costs.