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Amherst Embarks on "Who Does What" Study

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is taking its "Who Does What" initiative to Amherst. Town officials will work with the Partnership on the comprehensive review of governmental operations, looking for ways to save Amherst taxpayers money.

Over the next six months, Amherst will take a top to bottom look at how the town runs its departments and spends its money. The initiative is modeled after the Buffalo Niagara Partnership's "Who Does What Commission" that suggested million of dollars in savings for Erie County and City of Niagara Falls.

Amherst will also study a number of areas for possible savings. Among them: shared purchasing, and the idea of using lockboxes for tax payments. The BNP's Jonathan Dandes says the potential for savings is there.

"If we apply the same kind of principles that most private industries and private sector uses to run their operations, we think there will be significant savings right across the board," said Dandes. "And that's everything from duplication of effort, to payroll considerations, to doing things more efficiently relative to technology."

Amherst Town Supervisor Susan Grelick says some are old issues worth revisiting. But she says they hope to also find new areas for potential savings. However, Grelick stopped short of advocating sweeping changes, such as consolidations with the village of Williamsville.

"We work with municipalities when it's to Amherst's benefit, and when we can honestly say that it results in a reduction of taxes, and it does honestly improve the efficiency and quality of services," said Grelick. "But we would not be in favor of consolidations just for consolidations sake."

One controversial issue has been a proposal to enact a city manager form of government. Grelick says that will be studied - along with another alternative.

"At the same time they'll be looking at seeing if we can put together a stronger executive form of government, to see if the role of the supervisor should be strengthened."

Grelick cautioned against what she called "grandstanding knee jerk responses." She says the joint review will succeed only if everyone puts politics aside. Recommendations from the volunteer committee are expected in about six months.