Government should do more 'carpooling'
It's never too late - that was Joel Giambra's message in his final press conference on his final day as Erie County executive. An advocate for regionalism, he saw a merger take place in his final hours.
Erie County, Amherst, Clarence and Williamsville will consolidate sewer services, saving millions of dollars. The savings will be realized by combining office work and reducing the duplication of administrative work.
Giambra was met with opposition during his tenure when suggesting various consolidation measures, such as creating one 911 control center. He said there are 26 systems in Erie County compared to just one for the City of Los Angeles. At least he won one battle in his effort for regionalism.
The merger is expected to save affected homeowners $100 a year. Standing alone, that figure doesn't amount to much - maybe one extra family night out. But if this merger could be the start of changes in Western New York, then the savings could add up.
Every candidate says there is a lot of waste in government, and this month we'll see whether those new officials put action behind their campaign promises.
In Amherst, the personnel and benefit costs are more than 50 percent of the $116 million budget. An outrageous figure.
Western New York is not a growing community - evident in any nationwide statistic. Fewer people paying for the same services is a tipping scale that will eventually fall over.
Governments should adopt the simple methods that residents do when trying to save money. One of the major issues for any family today is gas prices; people now carpool or drive less. Governments should carpool in a sense by sharing services.
The merger of sewer services between four municipalities is just one area where savings can be realized. Maybe Giambra was onto something when he suggested reducing the number of 911 call centers. Maybe County Executive Chris Collins can find the missing elements to make that a realization or develop regional plans of his own.
The one-road, one-way thinking in WNY has to stop. Anytime someone proposes a new plan it stalls and usually comes to a complete halt. Maybe if there were more supporters driving that plan it would see fruition.
"Carpooling" is such a simple solution for this region's problems. Those who remain, trying to revive this town, should get on a bus that's heading to the future and work out some new plans. Maybe even literally, if that's what it takes.