Niagara County Legislature Vice Chairman John Syracuse on Thursday announced the formation of three working groups charged with preparing Niagara County for post-pandemic operations. Syracuse said the effort will involve members of the legislature as well as other county leaders, department heads and community partners.
“Niagara County and its residents are more than ready to get back to business, get back to fully functioning, but we fully recognize there is more to that than simply flipping a switch and saying go,” Syracuse said. “Our efforts to date have mostly been focused on providing necessary services to taxpayers while adhering to COVID-19 restrictions. Now, we must begin pivoting to post-pandemic planning, some of which has already been underway, so we can hit the ground running.”
Syracuse said this county initiative will be broken into three key working groups:
·“ReStart Niagara” is focused on helping businesses get started back up and running, accessing government programs, and providing any other support
“This effort will be done in partnership with the Niagara USA Chamber and the Center for Economic Development,” said Legislator Rich Andres, who will chair the committee. “Businesses will have a lot of questions and issues regarding reopening, and, just as we have been doing throughout this crisis, we will continue be a resource to assist them.”
·“ReThink Niagara” is focused on what was learned in providing services to the community during the pandemic that can modernize services delivery going forward
“Many of our departments had to quickly adapt to technology in order to deliver services in creative ways so we do not want to automatically default back to the old ways of doing business,” said Legislator Jesse Gooch, who will co-chair the committee with Legislator Tony Nemi. “I look forward to working closely with County Clerk Jastrzemski and our department heads to seize what this opportunity to modernize our operations.”
·“ReConfigure” Niagara is focused on operating Niagara County government in a time of severe budget constraints
“Like families and businesses across our community, there is no avoiding painful budget decisions caused by this pandemic,” said Majority Leader Randy Bradt, who is also an accountant and will chair this committee. “Working with County Treasurer Kyle Andres, County Manager Updegrove and his budget team, we have a huge task in front of us to figure out how we balance our budget in these very challenging times.”
Syracuse said he is not expecting a report from each committee, but rather proposals made as they move forward.
“This is not an academic exercise or some long-range planning effort that will be implemented down the road,” he said. “We expect concrete action from each committee in real time.”
The Niagara USA Chamber said its “strong belief in business advocacy was the catalyst in forming ‘ReStart Niagara.’ This working group has brought together county stakeholders and our strong Niagara County Legislature to be an important resource to businesses as we move forward towards easing restrictions under ‘NY PAUSE.’ ‘ReStart Niagara’ will join two other working groups to create action steps and educate the community on what will be necessary in the post-pandemic environment.”