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County Control Board Creates Special Office to Monitor Government Efficiencies

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority won't become a hard control board. But it might be difficult to tell the difference.

The control board announced Wednesday it's forming a separate office, the Office of Management and Productivity, to keep a watchful eye on lawmakers and officials. The four-year plan approved this week included more than 100 cost saving initiatives, totaling at least $260 million in savings. Vice Chair David Campbell, who will head the implementation office, says everyone will be held accountable.

"The plan says there will be no tax increase in 2007, 2008, and 2009 and this committee is committed to make sure that happens," said Campbell.

Plans for the implementation office are actually not new. The office, and the $2.7 million to fund it, were actually included in the original control board law. The legislation provides a total of $50 million over five years for reform initiatives. Two thirds of that goes to nine county reforms. The rest will be divvied up for other, as yet, undetermined regional initiatives. Democratic Majority Leader Lynn Marinelli says she wasn't aware of the provision. But she sees it as a positive step.

"This is part of keeping things moving forward is keeping everybody informed and making sure we're all on the same page," said Marinelli.

But Vice Chair Campbell wanted to make sure of that. At the Control Board's meeting, he blasted lawmakers who hinted some budget cuts could be restored after the first of the year.

"Now, you want to talk about something that will keep me awake at night? That statement will do it. I'm appalled at that statement," said Campbell. "We've worked for over a year to get this thing to where we've got it, where we've got a road map to get out of here. And if anybody thinks that's a joke of some kind, and all we've got to do is get a plan in place and then we can go back to business as usual, they've got another think coming, because this committee will not allow that to happen."

Campbell says the implementation office will be run by three or four paid employees, with $420,000 dollars earmarked for first year operating costs.