Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo (10th district) and Legislature Minority Leader Thomas Loughran (5th District) to announce an agreement on revisions to the Erie County Charter along with the creation of a new Erie County ethics law. The Charter revisions are the result of a review process begun earlier this year and incorporating input from the public as well as from elected officials and various branches of government.
“By working together and keeping lines of communication open we were able to produce revisions to the county Charter that will make county government more efficient and better able to serve its residents. These changes were carefully considered and were the subject of much discussion over the past few months as we worked our way towards this agreement,” said Poloncarz. “In that same bi-partisan fashion we were also able to revise our current Ethics Law. This new law will provide more transparency and reinforce residents’ faith in the leaders they elect to serve them. I would like to thank Legislators Loughran and Lorigo for working with me to make these changes a reality.”
Chief among the agreed-upon revisions to the Charter is the removal of proposed four-year terms and independent redistricting commission for county Legislators, as well as the removal of language that would have placed a different Code of Ethics in the Charter. All of the above proposals were met with mixed reviews including questions about their legality and were not included in the new, final version of the Charter. Also included in the new Charter are restrictions on the Legislature’s ability to change the salary of county elected officials; changes to funding allocations for the Legislature based on the proportion of members in the majority and minority; and changes to personnel appointment procedures for some Erie County departments, among other changes.
The new local law establishing a county Code of Ethics will put in place a Board of Ethics with 8 members, five of which will be full voting members appointed by the county executive and subject to confirmation by the county legislature. These five will serve five-year terms of office, one such term expiring each year, while the remaining three members of the Board will be non-voting ex-officio members. The new Ethics Law also tightens rules on financial disclosure, mandates disclosure of interest in county business, and details both prohibited and non-prescribed activities for elected officials.