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Regional solutions panel’s 1st meeting Thursday

March 24, 2016
By Nicole Gugino ( , Westfield Republican

Chautauqua County saw several regional projects succeed in 2015. Now the county would like to build on that success and keep the momentum for government efficiency going with the formation of the Regional Solutions Commission.

In County Executive Vince Horrigan's State of the County address, he said regional solutions are key to the county's progress.

To that end he created the commission, which will hold its first meeting on today at 10 a.m. at the Office of Emergency Services in Mayville.

"We have had a string of very good successes with the North County Water District, ... with a regional shared services plan, so we also want to build on that success, along with the Chautauqua Lake Sewer Integration Project, bringing people together. ... What we really want to do is build on those, whether they're shared services, whether it's regional, consolidation, whatever it may be to provide the more efficient delivery of our services," Horrigan said.

The county executive picked Legislator George Borrello to head up the commission that will identify regional initiatives and create proposals for implementation in the areas of public safety, infrastructure and government efficiency.

"Legislator George Borrello has done a really great work with the village of Forestville and the town of Hanover; very experienced with that, learned a lot. So, in terms of regional solutions, when I asked him if he was willing to head that up, he said yes," Horrigan explained.

Borrello said he sees the commission as being a leader in regional solutions and a source of information. He said his experience as chair of the Forestville Government Efficiency Task Force will directly translate to the Regional Solutions Commission.

"The rules are complex when it comes to consolidation of government entities, dissolution or whatever it might be and we want to not only help people navigate those rules and regulations, but we also want to provide guidance and assistance and really what we want to do is to help people think beyond the terms of the rules and regulations to what we can do to be creative and assist in getting the ball across the line for those initiatives. In Forestville, one of the key things was being able to bring together a coalition ... and create that baseline study, which was not required by law, but we knew was going to be critical to providing information so the voters could make an informed choice. We are looking to do the same thing here to see what is a better path and what will increase the likelihood of success," he said.

Other members include Richard Alex-ander, member of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation Local Economic Development Committee; Martha Bills, Westfield Town Supervisor; Sally Carlson, North Harmony Town Supervisor and member of the Mayors and Supervisors Association; Vince DeJoy, Director of Development for the city of Jamestown; Rick Johnson, a retired CPA, who also worked on Horrigan's Deficit Reduction Commission; Todd Tranum, President/-CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce; and Dave Wilkinson, Business Manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

"I think it's a very good mix of north and south, public and private, as well as people with economic development and regional experience," Horrigan said of his selected members.

Borrello said he worked with Bills on the regional effort to have harbors along Lake Erie in Westfield, Dunkirk and Hanover dredged and looks forward to working with all members on the commission.

Horrigan and Borrello invited everyone to the commission's first meeting, which will outline goals as well as have presentations on assistance available from Kyle Wilber, municipal management consultant from the New York State Department of State; Richard Zink, executive director of Southern Tier West; and Joseph Stefko, president and CEO of the Center for Governmental Research.

"I would encourage all stakeholders, whether it's elected officials or government employees or just regular citizens, I would encourage all of them to get involved if they would like to come to the meeting and give their input. I would encourage everyone to become a part of the process because it's important for the future of Chautauqua County," Borrello said.

Horrigan added, "Gov. Cuomo has $20 million earmarked for mergers, consolidation and regional solutions, so I wanted to take advantage of that and (the speakers are) going to come prepared to talk about that."

Horrigan said he has some specific projects in mind for the commission to tackle, but was not ready to reveal them. However, he did say the commission is looking for government officials and members of the public to come forward with ideas.

"It is probably going to be a mission that's going to take some time to complete. We'll set our timeline and look for results, but we are looking for very specific things that we can move forward on rather than just continuing on. A lot of work has been done ... in general discussions about shared services, but we are looking to identify more specifics that can be implemented," he said.



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