Hundreds Gather to Hear County Executive’s Ambitious Agenda for Future of Erie County
Event at Albright-Knox Art Gallery Underscores County’s Abundance of Cultural Assets
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by elected officials, business and community leaders, and concerned citizens as he delivered his 2013 State of the County address at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Speaking before a standing-room-only crowd of over 350 people for the approximately 45-minute speech, Poloncarz detailed successes from the first year of his administration including economic development initiatives and better cooperation among governmental partners, while also touching on challenges ahead in upcoming years.
“In the 2011 election, the people of Erie County were presented with a clear choice of what county government can do, and what their community could be. The people spoke and said that county government should seek to provide programs and services that its residents demand, but should do so as effectively and efficiently as possible,” said Poloncarz. “As County Executive, my focus has been on changing the tone of county government to better reflect what taxpayers expect. That has meant cooperating with our partners in government, a commitment to smart growth and sustainability, and an overhaul of our workforce development programs. It has also meant wrapping up a new lease with the Buffalo Bills, addressing our dysfunctional IDA system, and working to attract new businesses to Erie County, among other things.”
Poloncarz listed several of his administrations achievements from the past year, including:
- Creating one of the State’s first Land Banks to deal with a county-wide vacant property problem,
- An intensified focus on rooting out provider-level waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicaid system through the new County Medicaid Inspector General’s Office,
- The ongoing transformation of the Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna, which has already attracted a $40 million investment from Welded Tube of Canada to locate its U.S. operations here, and
- Restoration of a transparent and open funding process for Erie County’s cultural assets through the Erie County Arts and Cultural Advisory Board.
During the address, Poloncarz announced that the county will reopen the shuttered health clinic at 1500 Broadway in Buffalo as a state-of-the-art “Medical Mall”. The county will partner with Catholic Health Services, UB’s Dental School and Lakeshore Mental Health to provide much-needed primary, dental, and mental health services to an underserved population. Poloncarz also outlined the county’s investments in “the People’s Mandates”, county-provided services demanded by residents such as rodent control, parks improvements, road and bridge construction, libraries, and others.
These items, an administration priority in 2012, will continue to be emphasized in 2013 despite a challenging budget situation.
“Upon taking office, I noted the importance of these services and promised that they would be a priority. In 2012, Erie County invested in extensive repairs at county parks, recorded the busiest year on record for rodent control efforts, and performed maintenance and upgrading on roads throughout the county,” Poloncarz continued. “However, with $25 million in new budget gaps coming our way in future years as the result of the Legislature passing an unbalanced budget, we have financial challenges ahead that will require real cooperation and compromise if these services are to continue. I believe the difference between success and failure has been partnership, and I will work with all our partners in government as we pursue an ambitious agenda for Erie County.”