During the 2021 State of the County address, Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Rebecca Wydysh made a point of discussing the trying impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the County’s residents and infrastructure and how it will, “dominate our attention for the foreseeable future.” To date, a total of 272 County residents have died from the virus and the pre-pandemic economic momentum was lost due to the shutdowns of business and travel. According to Wydysh, Niagara County was previously leading other WNY counties in GDP and record sales tax revenues. Losses in trade and tourism revenue have also arisen from the closed Canadian-American border.
Wydsyh offered gratitude to Niagara County’s Health Department, the NCSO, and all other essential workers for their efforts in handling the strains of the pandemic, and also took the opportunity to lay out the County victories made during the pandemic with more responsive action on the way in 2021. These victories include:
- County finances being in a healthier state due to “prudent fiscal leadership” with an improved budget that stays under the tax gap, more technology being transitioned into operations, the 6% rainy day fund remaining untouched, and the elimination of unnecessary positions
- Niagara County and its labor unions enjoying a historic level of “cooperation and collaboration” with five contracts signed between five of the six unions
- The Economic Development Team under Commissioner Mike Casale and the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency Director Sue Langdon, who greatly aided businesses during the course of the Pandemic and will aid in the recovery. As well as Legislators Andreas and Robins for leading the Restart Niagara Committee which guided businesses struggling to obey state reopening guidelines and safety regulations
- Congressional Representatives Higgins and Jacobs signing a bipartisan letter for the House National Border Caucus sent to the Biden Administration asking for a negotiation with the Canadian government to loosen restrictions that will eventually lead to a full border reopening that will not only boost the travel and tourist revenues but reunite families separated by the closed off border
(WNYO Contributor: Anthony Joseph)
Anthony is a graduate of Buffalo State College and lifelong resident of Lockport.