title_header

ERIE.GOV | Your information resource from the government of Erie County, New York


County Executive Elected Officials County Departments Living In Erie County Visiting Erie County Growing your business in Erie County State and regional municipalities

March 2013 Column - County responds to FEMA audit, delay in E911 project


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

Erie County Legislature Chairman John Mills, who served on the Erie Community College Presidential Search Committee, has released the following statement concerning the announcement of the next president of ECC.

Erie County Legislator John Mills announces his 11th annual Town of Collins Library Hot Dog Roast Fundraiser will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or until sold out) Saturday, June 17 at the library, 2341 Main St., Collins. Cost is $1...

Erie County Legislator John Mills announces that in the Town of Collins, Taylor Hollow Road will be closed from US Route 62 to Buffalo Street, from Monday, June 19 through Friday, Sept. 15 (or until complete.) Crews will be performing maintenance...

The Erie County Legislature has approved Ruthie’s Law to require improved accountability from nursing homes in cases where a resident has been badly injured. The law, named in honor of Ruth Murray, recognizes that nursing homes have a...

Congratulations to all the members of the class of 2017, whether you are graduating from college or high school. This is an exciting time of year for our local education institutes as graduates make very big decisions in what they will do next....

oneilj - Posted on 07 March 2013

While this winter hasn’t been the mildest on record, we also didn’t have a major blast that paralyzed the community, causing massive cleanup efforts. Unfortunately, the effects of a storm that hit seven years ago resurfaced in a big way. On Feb. 27, the Erie County Legislature learned that the Federal Emergency Management Agency audited the claims from the October Surprise Storm of 2006 and wants more than $48 million to be paid back.

I was shocked to learn of this audit and agree with the county executive and comptroller that the findings are flawed. The auditors did not take into account a portion of the Stafford Act that allowed the county to use local labor to begin immediate cleanup to restore our region.

As a legislator at the time, I supported the decision to employ local businesses. Streets were impassable, power lines were down and homes and businesses were without power. It was necessary that the county respond immediately to these hazards.

While I believe that $39 million of the total claim is bogus, I remain concerned about the balance, $9 million, that FEMA claims is undocumented. If FEMA pursues recovery of that amount it could pose a fiscal challenge for the county that we will have to work hard to solve.

Another county issue that is in need of immediate action is completing the E911 project to upgrade all of the county’s 911 call centers. Erie County has been upgrading these centers with new technology to ensure the best response when calls for help come in. Funded through a state grant, the three-phase project began with larger towns to first upgrade centers that had the highest call volume. The county is supposed to be in phase three of the plan, but state funding has been diminished, leaving most of the county’s small towns and villages without the upgraded equipment. In the district I represent, many communities are impacted by this problem.

Towns and villages who have not received the upgrade are operating with outdated answering equipment. It is unacceptable that someone who makes a 911 call in a larger town will get an operator on the phone with better equipment and access to technology than someone who makes that same call in a smaller town. As legislators, we need to solve this problem and ensure that everyone has equal access to public safety and a response during an emergency.

The Legislature unanimously approved a resolution at the Feb. 21 session in support of efforts to receive the final Public Safety Answering Points Consolidation, Improvements and Enhancements grant, a total of $967,981, to complete these critical upgrades. I will continue to push for the immediate completion of this project and address this very serious public safety concern.

Anyone with questions or concerns about the above mentioned issues or other county matters, please contact my Legislative Office at 858-8850 or email john.mills@erie.gov.