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Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Niagara County Legislature Chairman Keith McNall delivers his first State of the County address Tuesday night, calling for continued fiscal restraint. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

ENP STAFF REPORTS
news@eastniagarapost.com


Niagara County Legislature Chairman Keith McNall called Niagara County 'prosperous' during his inaugural State of the County address delivered Tuesday at the Niagara County Legislature meeting.

McNall, R-Lockport, told his fellow legislators that they were on the right track: “Our county government has succeeded because our departments have implemented the policies advocated by this body.”
                 
McNall pointed to outgoing County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz’s record of producing on-time budgets that were always under the New York state tax cap as a significant achievement, and stressed the need for fiscally-prudent measures as county management draws up its 2017 budget plans.

“Niagara County must continue to use the same austere guideposts that have gotten us to this point if we are to remain prosperous,” McNall told the attentive audience during his 26-minute policy speech.  “We should continue our year-long budget review process, which is the backbone of our cost containment efforts and the efficient delivery of services.”

McNall directly challenged the county’s budget office to produce a 2017 budget that was both under the state tax cap and below the rate of inflation. He also urged fellow lawmakers to move swiftly in replacing Glatz, whose resignation from office becomes effective at the end of March.

“It is critical that we find an individual that brings the right combination of experience, leadership, and vision to be our partner in administering this county government,” McNall said. “That person must bring several goals to fruition, beginning with delivering yet another budget that is under the New York state tax cap, that cuts frivolous expenditures and waste, that fulfills our promises to our most vulnerable populations, that furthers the goal of private sector economic investment in our county, and that honors our taxpayers’ sacrifices.”

The Lockport lawmaker also urged a review of top appointed government leadership to ensure policymaking continues to garner results, with many department heads having spent more than a decade in office.

“Our next county manager must also have a team committed to this Legislature’s vision for our county’s future, and for that reason, we must initiate a careful examination of the staffing of our top government leadership posts,” he told county lawmakers.  “We must ensure the right people are doing the right work, and have the right vision and the right leadership skills to make that vision a reality.”

McNall, who issued several policy directives to department heads, stated that several key principles had always animated county policymaking, and challenged government leaders with continuing to generate the fiscally-conservative policies voters had demanded at the polls.

“A year ago, my honorable predecessor, Bill Ross, told you all—and this is a direct quote: ‘The County Legislature believes in smaller government, less spending, and lower taxes.’  We still do,” McNall said.  “Of course, that commitment won’t matter if we don’t articulate it and, moreover, act upon it.”

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