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March 2014 Column - State of the County leaves unanswered questions


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

We’ve all read the stories in the paper of the countless individuals suffering from the ongoing opioid epidemic. There has been a lot of talk of families being ripped apart by this tragedy, too often we hear talk but see little action.

Legislator Ted Morton joined Senator Patrick M. Gallivan, Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard, Holland Central School Superintendent Cathy Fabiatos and Alden School Superintendent Adam Stoltman to announce continued funding for school resource officers (SRO) in several local districts. The SRO program provides a uniformed officer in schools as a way to promote student safety, conflict resolution and anti-bullying initiatives.


At a Legislative session held on September 21, 2017, Legislator Ted Morton honored Lancaster resident, Dick Young as the September 2017 Citizen of the month.


Today, in response to the County Executive’s offer to work with Legislator Morton to develop a compromise Made in America Act, Legislator Ted Morton wrote to him to begin the process.


Legislator Ted Morton first introduced the Made in America Act in support of local manufacturers and local workers in Erie County. After passing the Legislature by a vote of 9-1, the County Executive vetoed the law after instructing the County Attorney to draft a legal opinion.


As a first-year legislator, I looked forward to hearing the county executive’s State of the County address last month to gain a sense of exactly what challenges we were facing and to hear an update on successes. When the final word was spoken, I felt very torn in my response, as I was encouraged by some proposals but felt the address as a whole was very incomplete.

I join my colleagues in the Majority Caucus in making our top priority taxes and stopping any and all increases.

Before I was elected to the Legislature, a bipartisan group of members took a stand to stop the county executive’s proposed $8.6 million tax increase. In his 2014 State of the County address, the executive clearly demonstrated that services can be provided without higher taxes. I pledge to continue that mission and working with the administration to deliver quality services without asking residents to pay more.

Some of my lingering questions after the State of the County are: Why weren’t the county’s taxes discussed more? Furthermore, what are the county executive’s thoughts regarding last year’s budget, as well as this year’s?

The State of the County also left unanswered questions concerning details to address the county’s infrastructure. Every mile that motorists drive reminds them how harsh this winter has been on our roadways, and addressing the issue will be no easy feat. Above and beyond the wear and tear, we have several roads and bridges that need major repairs and reconstruction, making the county’s approach all the more critical and trying.

I want to thank the county executive for directly talking about the issues within the Department of Social Services Child Protective Services office. His attention to this matter provides hope to all that we can make changes that will save a life. I am committed to assisting the administration in this effort.

I also want to join the county executive in acknowledging our emergency response and county highway workers who have been tested this winter. The forecasters reminded us earlier this week that winter may be far from over, warning of yet another storm. Our employees have been dedicated to protecting the residents of Erie County and assisting those in need.

Since presenting the State of the County, the executive has released a statement concerning the 2013 county finances, anticipating a surplus of $2 million. 

While this is good news, the statement also included an outline to exhaust that surplus and spend above it. Again, I have several questions about that plan. Is it even feasible to pay for everything he suggested? I anticipate the county executive will send his request to the Legislature in the near future, and at that time we will be able to fully address these concerns.

As a reminder, if you ever have any questions or wish to discuss the above issues with me, please call 858-8856 or email ted.morton@erie.gov.

Additional information is also available on the legislator’s website. To find out more, visitwww.erie.gov/legislature/district08 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/legislatortedmorton.