Several important items are occupying the attention of the Erie County Legislature in this hot summer. The one issue receiving the most media attention is the Buffalo Bills lease. The team’s lease for Ralph Wilson Stadium expires next year and many people are worried about the future of the Bills in Buffalo. Others are worried about the cost to taxpayers to keep the team here. Both groups have valid concerns. Several people have asked me for information regarding the ongoing negotiations. In each case my response has been that the county executive is conducting the talks and has said he hopes to have a new lease by the time training camp begins.
I believe this is one of those times when the county should speak with one voice and that voice should be the executive’s. As long as he is making substantial progress, therefore, I will remain silent so as to not compromise his efforts. There will be plenty of time for me and the other 10 legislators to air our opinions before we cast our votes on the new lease. There will also be time for you to weigh in once the details of the proposed lease are made public. I value your input and look forward to discussing this issue with you later this year.
Another topic that is heating up concerns the location of a new academic building for Erie Community College. Since I last wrote on this subject, there has been more discussion about putting the building in the City of Buffalo. My view has not changed, though. The new building must be constructed on the North Campus. Every time an Erie County resident goes to a community college, other than ECC, the host county sends a bill, commonly referred to as a “chargeback,” to Erie County. The county then passes this bill along to the taxpayers of the community in which the student resides. In recent years this has added hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to the property taxes of my constituents on Grand Island and the Tonawandas. This is not surprising, given our proximity to Niagara County Community College. Putting the new building in Buffalo will do nothing to improve this situation. Closing the North Campus, as some are suggesting, would make matters a lot worse. That is why I continue to fight for improvements to the North Campus. Only by upgrades at this site will we make ECC more attractive than NCCC and cut down on those excessive chargebacks.
If you have thoughts you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. I can be contacted by phone at 858-8672 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.