Syracuse announces members of consolidation panel
by Christian W. Peck
Public Information Officer
Niagara County Public Information Office
The government/private sector commission charged with cutting back redundancies in government will begin work soon, now that the panel's membership has been finalized, Niagara County Legislature leaders announced Thursday.
Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, who chairs the newly created ad hoc committee on governmental shared services and consolidation, released a list of committee membership Thursday morning after conferring with Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, and Public Works Committee Chairman Paul B. Wojtaszek, R-North Tonawanda.
Rounding out Syracuse's committee will be legislators Michael A. Hill, R-Middleport, and Jason Zona, D-Niagara Falls, as well as Wojtaszek, who will serve in an ex officio capacity, Supervisors Joseph Jastrzemski, R-Wilson, and W. Ross Annable, R-Hartland, and town of Lockport Highway Superintendent Dave Miller, who is also president of the Niagara County Highway Association. The government leaders will be joined by Tom Weeks, president of Grand Tours/Ridge Road Express, who was nominated to serve on the panel by the Niagara USA Chamber, and William Schickling, vice president of finance and information technology at Niagara County Community College.
"This group of leaders from our county are taking a new approach to how government should function," Syracuse explained after making the committee members' names public. "We will strive to consolidate where consolidation makes sense, and to change the structure of government where government's structure itself is inefficient."
Syracuse said he welcomed the diverse assemblage of viewpoints, which spans the public and private sectors.
"To get results, we need buy-in from our communities, and from our citizens," he said. "In 2013, government can no longer take the view that because something has been done one way for decades, that is the only and best way."
Syracuse noted the committee would begin its work looking at the way roads are plowed in Niagara County, but would examine other services that are in need of overhaul.
"When Paul Wojtaszek became Public Works chairman, he said it was time to start asking a question that we've forgotten to ask in government: 'Why,' " Syracuse said. "We intend to examine the very structure of some government services to determine if there is a more efficient, less costly way to meet our taxpayers' expectations."
Syracuse also tipped his hat to the committee members who hail from outside the government.
"Ronald Reagan once noted, 'Outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector,' " he said. "It is my assertion that, even when government is providing a service that only it can provide, it can still learn from the private sector's best practices. This committee will work diligently toward one singular goal: making government work better, more efficiently."
Syracuse said the committee would begin meeting in February.