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EC lawmakers trying evening public hearings to increase attendance

Erie County

Many Erie County Legislature public hearings have few citizens in attendance, while a few draw a lot of people, like the upcoming hearing on the County Executive Poloncarz's proposed budget. Legislators want to try early evening meetings to draw larger crowds.

Most of the public hearings are held in Legislature chambers located in Old County Hall. They are often during the day, like the public hearing on Wednesday over the assessment rolls in the county's sewer districts. That is at 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon.

The public hearing on the budget will be November 21 at 6 p.m. That hearing is usually crowded, sometimes with dozens of speakers and running on for hours.

Cheektowaga Legislator Ted Morton would like more crowds active at hearings.

"It's important that we, the legislators, hear what people are thinking on different subjects," said Morton and he believes later events would be better.
"Since I've been here, the last 2-1/2 years, I believe the public hearings have been at 5:30. - and even that is tough for a lot of people that work traditional hours," he said. "So that's why myself and my colleague, the Chairman Mills,  suggested we move it to 6 o'clock. Any time, any place is not going to be perfect for everyone, but we hope this will allow more people to attend."

Chairman John Mills said it makes sense to move the meetings to a time when it may be easier for people to come from work to attend and find it easier to park. He said there was an attempt a few years ago to hold a hearing away from County Hall, but there was not much of a crowd for that.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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