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Erie County Legislature OKs local law to revise charter

Sat, Jul 30th 2016 07:00 am

Voters to decide in November pending county executive

The Erie County Legislature approved a local law that includes more than 50 revisions to the county charter that change how government operates.

Highlights include:

•Provisions to make sure county employees on active military duty receive full pay.

•Ethics reform that closes the LLC loophole increases penalties on officials who break the rules and gives stronger independence to the ethics board.

•Creates rules that stop county officials from using vacant positions in the budget as slush funds.

•Enhances requirements that make sure women and minorities are given equal employment opportunities in Erie County.

•Creates an independent redistricting commission that removes the redrawing of legislative district lines from the control of legislators.

•Lengthens the terms of legislators from two to four years based on the establishment of an independent redistricting commission.

The recommendations were formulated and approved by the Erie County Charter Revision Commission, a group of 19 independent Erie County residents.

Erie County residents have final say on the recommendations. They will vote on the items in a public referendum on November's ballot if approved by the county executive. Chairman John Mills said he encourages the county executive to also support the local law, giving residents the opportunity to support or oppose these items.

"After more than 25 public meetings discussing proposed revisions, the legislature has provided final approval of a package of changes that will improve the county charter. I want to once again thank all who served on the Charter Review Commission and spent hours debating proposals and making their recommendation. I also want to thank the residents who spoke at the public hearings for being involved in the process. I believe through compromise and much discourse that we ended with a set of revisions that residents can support on Election Day," said Mills.

He continued, "These recommendations first came to us from residents who volunteered their time and it will ultimately end with residents who will vote on the referendum. This is about the public having a say in how county government operates. I ask the county executive to support this local law and let the voters decide."

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