Singular spending authority no longer necessary

By Bee Group Newspapers | on April 15, 2021

I hope everyone had a safe, enjoyable Easter holiday with their loved ones. Since last month’s column, there have been even more vaccinations delivered in Erie County and eligibility has just expanded. This is great news as we hope to get through the final stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you may have seen in the news, Erie County is receiving $178 million from the federal government in COVID relief funds. It’s important that this funding is spent wisely and in the best interest of Erie County taxpayers. My colleagues and I in the Minority Caucus want to have a voice in this process, which is why I’ve submitted a resolution to revoke some of the county executive’s emergency powers.

Since March 2020, the county executive has had the authority to make spending decisions without legislative approval. This arrangement was in place to expedite decisions related to the pandemic, when immediate response was necessary and there was much uncertainty regarding how to handle the rapid rise in cases. Fast forward a year, and local governments have developed a much better response to COVID-19, and more and more people are receiving their vaccine. Singular authority over spending is simply no longer a necessity. The $178 million in federal funding is a lot of money, and those of us in the Legislature should have a seat at the table as these funds are allocated. We represent all different sections of Erie County and are elected to make decisions on behalf of our constituents. If one person is calling the shots, not everyone has fair representation. Since I announced the resolution a few weeks ago, it seems some of my colleagues across the aisle understand this is a bipartisan effort and are willing to offer support. I look forward to moving this at our next legislative session on April 15 and will be sure to update you in next month’s column.

In the meantime, I’m excited to share that I’ve launched a new initiative on my Facebook page, “Small Business Spotlight Saturday.” I know this has been an extremely difficult year for business owners, and I offer my encouragement and support. Meeting with business owners and seeing new businesses throughout my legislative district are things I really enjoy. I recently stopped by Bloomfield’s Pub in Depew and Buffalo Tom’s Treasured Island. I appreciate the hospitality at both locations, and it’s great to see so much success in our community.

If you own a business in Lancaster, Cheektowaga, Alden or Depew that I haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet, please feel free to contact my office to set up a meet and greet. I’m always willing to hear your concerns and learn more about you.

As always, if you have questions, comments or concerns regarding the aforementioned topics or another county-related issue, feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

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