Modified: July 9, 2021 8:29am
Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo is urging his colleagues in county government to go back to the drawing board and explore more transformative projects to come out of a once-in-a-lifetime pot of funding from the federal government.
Erie County is on track to receive $178 million from the federal government as part of the COVID-19 relief American Rescue Plan. At a press conference held by the County Executive, he laid out a list of proposals, mostly made up of small projects and basic maintenance of County assets that have been long-neglected. The funding doesn’t need to be allocated until 2024, which is why the Minority Caucus is proposing discussion on new ideas along with a 30-day public comment period to gain taxpayer input.
While the American Rescue Plan can’t cover all of the proposals, the Minority Caucus has laid out a list of potential projects worthy of discussion and consideration. They are as follows:
- Working with the NFTA to attract a regional airline to utilize the Buffalo Niagara International Airport has a HUB (spoke) of operations.
- Working with the NFTA to open up the Port of Buffalo to Great Lakes Cruise Ships
- Working with regional partners in Niagara and Cattaraugus counties to expand a travel and tourism network of high-speed rail that would connect Buffalo to Niagara Falls and Ellicottville
- Implement a Property Tax Reduction Matching Grant Program
- Making broadband/high-speed internet accessible to everyone in Erie county sooner rather than later
- Investing with private sector companies to expand the reliability of cellular telephone service in Erie County
- Fully fund a grant program to help restaurants expand and create heated outdoor seating, improve their building facades, and activate their sidewalk spaces
- Better support for non-profit and cultural institutions
- Funding the future of SUNY Erie
- Expanding access to sewer systems
Minority Leader Lorigo said, “Right now, we have the potential to make historic investments in Erie County. We shouldn’t move hastily when we could explore big picture projects, like making our airport a regional hub or creating a high-speed rail from Buffalo to Niagara Falls and Ellicottville. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lay the foundation for an Erie County that is bigger, better, and more prosperous for future generations. I am urging my colleagues in county government not to waste it. We should shift the conversation, we should include the public in the discussion, and we should get it right.”