Recommendations For Improving County Government

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo Niagara sponsored a forum titled Who Needs County Government and Why? The four speakers were:

Dr. Joseph Stefko, Director of Public Finance, Center for Government Research, Rochester, NY

James Magavern, Esq.

Brenda McDuffie, Executive Director, Buffalo Urban League

Kenneth Vetter, Executive Director, Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority

A history of County government was provided along with an overview of the services provided by County government. The most interesting part of the forum for me is when the speakers were asked what recommendations they had for improving County government.

The recommendations proposed were:

  • County government is the only region wide government and should serve as a facilitator of bringing municipalities together.
  • The State should take over the operation of the Medicaid program which is a huge financial burden on counties.
  • A 4 year financial strategic plan should be developed to guide county operations.
  • Annual reporting of County departmental goals and accomplishments should be reported to the public and reviewed by a citizen board.
  • A professional County Manager with the authority to appoint department heads should be implemented.
  • Merging the City of Buffalo and the County of Erie.
  • Implementing a process of land use planning that requires county review of all land and economic development projects so that the interests of the region as a whole are considered as part of such projects.
  • Consolidation of the multiple municipal economic development agencies into one county wide agency.
  • Implement a process to survey community members as to what services they want and to obtain feedback as to how well county services are being provided.
  • Somehow decrease the political partisanship that exists as doing the right thing is not based on political parties.

What do you think about these recommendations? While I am all for improving County government, I question whether we need County government at all in New York State, which I will discuss in my next post.

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