April 2014 Column - County Legislature taking necessary steps to get ‘shovels in the ground’ as soon as possible

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The necessary nuisances of lane closures and detours will be appearing around Erie County as road construction projects get underway. Unfortunately, we do not yet know which county roads are being repaired this year. To expedite the process and ensure all paperwork is properly handled, the Erie County Legislature has scheduled a special session to adequately address the major road problems our county is facing after an unusually harsh winter.


The meeting is slated for April 24, putting the administration on a tight time schedule to get shovel-ready projects in front of the Legislature for approval. If we are going to take full advantage of the construction season, we need to get to work as soon as possible.


The Majority Caucus scheduled the special session in hopes of moving forward major projects that the county must address this year. While DPW crews continue to fully analyze the condition of the 1,200 lane miles of roads we maintain, we can start completing the paperwork to approve projects that were identified as necessities.


Erie County currently has $22 million marked for capital improvement projects, and an additional $5 million in State road funds.  In order to proceed, we need the list of projects the DPW plans to complete this year. After this past winter, many of our roadways are in terrible shape and any delay could be detrimental. The Legislature is ready to work on April 24 to approve the projects and get crews out on the roads. 


In another county matter, the Legislature took a vote at the April 10 session that was critical for the sake of Erie County taxpayers. With overwhelming, bipartisan approval, the Legislature passed a resolution (8-2) opposing the creation of a Library Special Taxing District. With 1,044 taxing districts already in existence in Erie County, we do not need another layer of government, or another level of bureaucracy levying property taxes on you. 


Prior to the vote, I heard from many residents who are involved with the library system that support and oppose the new taxing district. I want to thank everyone who reached out to me to discuss this important matter. During these conversations, I heard that the taxing district was needed to ensure the library was adequately funded for the future and to consolidate 23 separate boards.  While I fully support the library, and believe stable funding is crucial, I do not believe that adding another taxing district is necessary to meet these needs described by the trustees and branch directors. The Legislature is committed to funding the library appropriately while respecting taxpayer dollars. Annually, the library receives $26 million from taxpayers. There is also nothing prohibiting the library from consolidating its 23 boards if it believes that would improve efficiency and services. They can consolidate those boards without creating a new taxing district.


In closing, I would again like to clarify that since taking office, I have been, and will continue to be, committed to funding the library so that they can continue to provide vital services that taxpayers deserve, without creating more government.