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County Government Study Gives Erie County a C-Plus

By Mark Scott

Syracuse, NY – Just how well is Erie County government performing?

According to a Syracuse University study performed in conjunction with Governing magazine, Erie County earned a C-plus grade, ranking 23rd out of 40 counties surveyed nationally.

But compared to four other New York counties, Erie tied with Westchester for top spot in the state.

"County Executive Joel Giambra has dedicated himself to promoting regional government and has openly called for a merger between Erie County and the financially troubled city of Buffalo, although few have joined him in supporting that step so far," the report stated.

"The jail and sheriff’s department holding centers have been folded into one, for example, effectively eliminating a double booking process for detainees. Several other county departments have been consolidated, and a countywide study, expected out later this year or early in 2003, will recommend additional changes to root out duplicative efforts," the report continued.

The highest grade the county received was a B for information technology. The county was praised for increasing staff training in technology. Also cited was the strong support of the executive and legislative branches.

The lowest grade, a C-minus, was in the area of human resources. The report said long-range personnel planning is weak. It also noted labor relations are somewhat strained, particularly by administration’s efforts at consolidation of departments, and that there is a sizable grievance backlog.

Erie County received a B-minus in financial management. The report cited the county's good investment and debt policies. But it did fault the county's reliance on reserves to balance its budgets in each of the past five years.