The Erie County Comptroller announced he is changing the rules for collecting all COVID-related fines.
Stefan Mychajliw said effective Thursday, fines will be administered by his office instead of the Department of Health and the change doesn't need approval from the County Executive or Legislature.
The change also allows businesses 20-100 years to pay a fine, depending on the amount owed. This essentially makes a violation of state-mandated health and safety protocols null and void.
The Comptroller is one of a number of Republicans who have been in a dispute with Democrats Gov. Andrew Cuomo and County Executive Mark Poloncarz over COVID shutdowns, mask-wearing and what he calls "punitive and excessive" fines for violations.
"I am putting my foot down. Enough. Time to fight for and stand up for families and small businesses," Mychajliw said. "Families are being destroyed by a so-called COVID cure that is worse than the disease itself."
Mychajliw also warned County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein that if she does not comply, he will "freeze the Health Department's bank accounts immediately," invoking his power for accounting practices under the County Charter.
The Health Department is planning a COVID briefing at 2:30 p.m., which WBFO will air live.