A recent press release on August 13, 2013 by the Erie County Legislature Republican caucus urged County Executive Mark Poloncarz to release funds to fix County roads has important implications for the 9th Legislative District, which includes Hamburg, Lackawanna and parts of South Buffalo. Unfortunately, the Republican caucus proposal to deplete the transfer tax surplus fund would do little to solve the long-term issues surrounding our community’s aging infrastructure.
Lynne Dixon, a member of the Republican caucus, was quoted five times criticizing the Poloncarz administration on budget decisions pertaining to road construction. Her partisan rhetoric on this issue, however, does not match her voting record as a Legislator. Her caucus approved a county budget the County Executive did not support. Among the amendments her coalition approved was pork for a parochial organization in Amherst and restoring a patronage job in the Comptroller’s office. Not a single additional penny, however, was added to infrastructure improvements. Those actions make clear what their priorities were.
There are 143.9 miles of roads in Erie County rated as poor or worse by the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council. This is a serious crisis and residents expect their elected officials to solve it. On February 15, 2013, the Erie County Legislature held a hearing, the purpose of which was “to consider the appropriation from the Erie County Road Repair Reserve Fund for road and bridge repairs.” Although the hearing was held in the same building as her office, Dixon did not attend. I propose Erie County have a funding source dedicated to infrastructure repairs, and not simply budget for it annually out of the general and capital budgets. This would ensure that there would be adequate funding for road repairs while insulating that funding from the political gamesmanship which has haunted Erie County in recent years.