Niagara County Legislature Vice Chairman John Syracuse today 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,” said Syracuse. “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 – focused on helping businesses get started back up and running, accessing government programs, 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 – focused on what we learned in providing services to the community during the pandemic that can modernize our 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 – 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,” said Syracuse. “We expect concrete action from each committee in real time.”