Erie County

Erie County's parks and beaches are now smoke-free. 

The Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein and other county leaders were joined Monday by members of the Erie-Niagara Tobacco Free Coalition at Como Lake Park in Lancaster  where they unveiled the first batch of "smoke-free" signs.

Burstein says the new smoke-free policy  is now in effect at all county-run parks and beaches.   She says the goal is to clear the air of second-hand smoke

WBFO News file photo /

Lease negotiations between the Buffalo Bills and the County of Erie appear to making headway.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz believes that the most significant issues could be ironed out be the end of July and the deal could be signed by the end of the year.

Stadium renovations, estimated at more than $200 million, are among the issues to be addressed.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

Lease negotiations between Erie County and the Buffalo Bills regarding the use of Ralph Wilson Stadium are progressing.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz anticipates that the framework for a deal can be in place by the end of next month. One aspect of the talks is the issue of stadium renovations that will carry a $200 million price tag. The current deal expires in July.

A memorandum of understanding needs to be reached between the parties before an actual lease can be hammered out.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

Nearly a dozen New York State counties, including Erie and Niagara, are being asked to return millions of dollars in Medicaid payments to Washington.

The monies in question were dispersed in 2009, and questions have arisen as to the guidelines provided for when these supplemental reimbursements are to be measured from and how much must be repaid. At issue are $5.3 million for Erie County and $1.3 million for Niagara County. Erie County used the money for ECMC hospital and nursing home expenses. Niagara County folded the money into its budget.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

The Huntley Power plant in the Town of Tonawanda will benefit from the settlement of a lawsuit from 2011.

The lawsuit entailed tax exemptions and assessments that the plant filed for and which were denied by the town's Board of Assessment Review. The award totals nearly $9 million, much of it coming from the Kenmore - Town of Tonawanda School District and the Town itself. Both entities made preparations for the payments.

Erie county also owes in the settlement, though there has been no comment from the County Executive.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

Erie County Democrats are eyeing Anthony Masiello as a possible replacement for party chairman Leonard Lenihan.

Lenihan's current two year term expires in September and Albany is pressuring him to step aside at that time. He claims that he will announce his intentions in the near future.

For Masiello's part, he had no comment.

Residents should be aware of new guidelines and regulations regarding the disposal of some household items.

Oil-based paint, for example, needs to be brought to hazardous waste collection site.

Associate Engineer Paul Kranz of the County Environment and Planning Department says latex paint can be thrown into the garbage tote, as long as the owner dries it out.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

After significant study, the Buffalo Bills are proposing that Ralph Wilson Stadium undergo a major renovation as new lease talks get underway.

The cost of the renovation is anticipated to be in the $200 million range, and much of that funding will be provided by taxpayers. It is a less expensive option than retrofitting the stadium or contracting for a new one. The current fifteen year lease agreement between Erie County and the Bills regarding Ralph Wilson Stadium expires in 2013.

Poloncarz releases four-year plan for Erie County

Apr 10, 2012
WBFO News file photo

A new four-year financial plan for Erie County has been released by County Executive Mark Poloncarz. The former county comptroller says the document is designed to more accurately reflect expenses and revenues from the previous proposals by former County Executive Chris Collins.

While Collins called for numerous job cuts, Poloncarz holds the line on county employment. The proposal calls for a seven percent increase in employment expenses by 2015, but also projects the reduction in the work force of about 50 jobs through attrition.

WBFO News photo Mark Leitner

Erie County is hoping it will be one of the five communities across the state to be approved for creation of a so-called land bank. 

The County's application was dashed off to Albany Friday, according to County Executive Mark Poloncarz. 

A landbank would address and hopefully help to remedy a steadily - growing problem of vacant, abandoned, and tax delinquent properties.

Cultural agencies receiving funding from Erie County are facing fewer strings attached to the money coming from the Rath Building.

During recent years, many culturals were required to accept Collins Administration appointees to their boards and provide free tickets to events even if the tickets were eventually not used.

In some cases, culturals saw their money delayed until the appointments were made.

That's even when in other cases, there was no longer a county grant but the appointees stayed on boards.

A prominent pollster in New York says last week's election victory by Erie County Executive-elect Mark Poloncarz validated an early October poll that found the Democrat gaining ground in his race against incumbent Republican Chris Collins.

When the Siena Research Institute released its first poll on the county executive's race, the Collins campaign was harshly critical.  Campaign spokesman Stefan Mychajliw characterized the poll as "flawed," that it was just another media-sponsored poll that gets it wrong every time.  Except that this time, Siena was right.