Poloncarz says tone of county government has changed

Mar 14, 2013

Erie County Executive Poloncarz was upbeat Wednesday, saying in his State of the County message that the area is doing well and he has changed the tone of county government.

Speaking at theĀ  Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the county executive said the gallery is a sign of the cultural riches of the community which are attracting worldwide attention and direct dollars from the county.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz symbolically delivered his 2013 State of the County speech at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO News

He says county government is running more efficiently because the fiscal picture remains fragile, as his administration tries to attract investment and jobs, especially from Canada.

Poloncarz indirectly compared himself to Rep. Chris Collins, the man who backed government as a business and lost a re-election bid for county executive.

"One of the first choices we made was to change the tone of county government. We did this by acknowledging that government is not a business and should not be run like one. There are simply things the private sector can't or won't do. That's precisely why government is here, to take on those tasks for the good of the community even when it might not make the most business sense to do so," Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz says his administration is also getting things done, from persuading Albany to allow a Medicaid enforcement unit to probe providers here to removing a wall at Bennett Beach which had been an unresolved problem for years.

Republican legislator Lynne Dixon says Poloncarz is right about the need to change, while she doesn't always agree with his choices.

"These are difficult times we are living in. The cost of just running government certainly increases. So he's right about having to make tough choice. Tough choices can mean revenues, tough choices can also mean cuts where necessary or finding new and innovative ways of doing things," Dixon said.

Conservative legislator Joseph Lorigo says cooperation can work, but there are trust issues involved.

"My concerns are working with someone that I believe has a credibility issue. Today he mentioned an $8.5 million budget gap when, on the record in the legislature shortly after 2013 began, Mark Poloncarz's budget director was on the floor saying we have $10 million for the Bills lease that was previously hidden in the budget. You had the county clerk saying we had a $2 million surplus," Lorigo said.

Since this is an election year for county legislators, they and the county executive are establishing their positions heading into the November vote.