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Erie County Control Board Regroups

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority will look much different when it meets this week for the first time after a two month absence. There's a new chairman, two new members and new staff soon coming on board.

Last week, new board chairman Anthony Baynes said residents would begin seeing a lot more change, besides some new faces.

He said most members have already agreed to a new philosophy of cost cutting and a code of conduct to restore faith among county residents. And he wasn't talking about at the county level. The control board is busy getting its own house in order first. And Baynes saidat means keeping politics out of hiring new top staff.

"I'm still looking at several people. There's a lot of people who are interested. We're looking for the right person," said Baynes. "I'm going to be perfectly clear and perfectly frank, I don't care if they're Democrats, Republicans, conservative or liberal. They have to be right for the job and that's the direction we're going in."

Board member Sheila Kee said she likes that new direction. And she's glad they will be looking for just the right people to take over the two top staff positions.

"It definitely needs to be somebody who's good at finance, who has an understanding of county and public policy, who's able to be a fact-finder, sometimes be a detective, and put it all together so we can move on ideas and recommendations," said Kee.

And she said that will be much easier with the revamped board as well. Already, Kee says communication is vastly improved.

"Absolutely. It's just amazingly different. And I think because there is cohesion among the members, we're going to have much better results," said Kee.

That will be crucial, since county officials are already well into budget preparation for the 2007 budget. And they face major gaps in anticipated savings from planned initiatives. The board meets this Wednesday for the first time since February.