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Legislature John Mills is looking for middle ground

The following is a guest column by Erie County Legislator John Mills.

At my request, the comptrollerís auditing division has begun a review of the Legislatureís expenditures and budget practices from the past five years. This is long overdue; I donít recall such a review ever taking place, during my tenure. Without fully understanding the past spending decisions, we canít adequately move forward.

This five-year review will help the new majority identify ways to operate more efficiently. By looking back and analyzing previous Legislature expenditures, we can better recognize how to move forward and where to place our priorities.

As is the case in any audit, I believe that during this review, the auditors will uncover areas where we can improve productivity. I look forward to reading their report and I will assure the residents of Erie County that all necessary changes will be made to improve the Legislature.

While the audit is still being conducted, I have already made changes to improve accountability within the Legislature. The Legislature staff members were some of the last county employees not required to document their time, through the electronic payroll system. That is all changing. Going forward, the staff members will be required to swipe their county ID badges, upon arrival and departure from work. This is an important initiative taken by the new Legislature majority to operate a transparent body of government.

Prior to the installation of the electronic system, Legislature employees were still marking their time on paper. Information was then manually entered into the county system. This was time-consuming, and frankly, inefficient. By using this program, the Legislature will efficiently document staff activity without question.

Much like the five-year review audit, implementing electronic time records is overdue and I am proud to see it accomplished within the first 60 days of the Republican party taking control of the Legislature.

Last week, the county executive gave his 2014 State of the County address. I want to thank Mr. Poloncarz for his presentation and I look forward to working with him to implement reform that is in the best interest of all taxpayers.

As the legislator for much of the Southtowns, I was disappointed that more time was not spent discussing plans for bridge and road work repairs. We are going to face significant issues this spring, as potholes continue to create a headache for drivers. In addition to the previously scheduled road work, weíll have to ensure these major nuisances are addressed properly. As I always do, Iíll be pressuring the county executive to place a priority on responsible infrastructure repair. It is a public safety issue, as well as the engine for local economic growth.

While both the Legislature and county executive are looking ahead, (though sometimes down different paths), I look forward to finding middle ground.
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