June 25, 2009

Lewis' Restructuring Plan Lacks Substance

On April 7, the Niagara County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution "authorizing the county manager to begin the process of restructuring all Niagara County departments due to proposed funding cuts to New York State programs proposed by Governor David A. Paterson, and due to the proposed receipt of federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009." Fair enough, having a plan in place for contingencies cannot be a bad thing.

What's somewhat befuddling is the "restructuring" that County Manager Greg Lewis has identified. While some may have merit, others are cause for concern. For example, as part of his "restructuring", Lewis wants to adopt a mortgage tax with revenues to be dedicated to his $60 million+ campus concept. In other words, his plan for restructuring calls for a multi-million dollar tax on homeowners of this county.

Other recommendations may meet with some opposition as well. His idea to transfer all county parks to the towns will be challenging as the towns will likely not want to take ownership of the parks.

He also wants to increase the "recordation fees" with revenues to be allocated to the public works facility. If simply raising taxes is being presented as "restructuring", we don't need him or the position. Garnering a share of the cell phone tax from the Sheriff's Department - good luck with that one. And asking all other jurisdictions in the county to use the county's communications center will never, ever happen.

Lewis' full list of restructuring recommendations follows:

- Replace the 5 standing committee process with a committee of the whole process with the committee of the whole to meet the Tuesday prior to each regular County Legislature meeting.
a. The committee of the whole meeting agenda to be divided into segments with each segment to be devoted to a core tier (i.e., CSS, CS, PW, ED, and ADM)
b. The tier segments within the committee meetings to be presided over by Tier Chairs/Vice Chairs
c. The Clerk of the Legislature’s Office to provide support, staff, and recordation for the committee of the whole meetings
d. A robust meeting, agenda, resolutions, minutes, and other documentation software program to be implemented to support all Legislature meetings.

· Realign mail room and print shop to be under the management of the Office of Management & Budget.

· Realign the support and staffing for coroners to no longer be provided by the Clerk.

· Implement the Public Works Facility to centralize and consolidate the Public Works operations.

· Realign the Office of Weights and Measures to be under Public Works.

· Implement the Homeland Security and Management Director position/Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management per the Administrative Code.

· Transfer all County parks to the Towns in which they are located and provide Greenway funding to the towns to assist in funding park operations.

· Adopt a mortgage tax with revenues to the County to fund public works operations.

· Adopt increased recordation fees with revenues to the County to fund public works operations.

· Institute having a share of cell phone usage sales tax go to the County to fund Sheriff’s Communications Center.

· Promote all other jurisdictions within Niagara County using the Niagara County Communications Center.

· Implement the Niagara County Communities Comprehensive Plan.

· Immediately set aside remaining casino revenue to offset property tax used to fund the Economic Development Department in the 2011 County Budget.


Paladin said...

Is half of that shit even legal in New York?

And where does Lewis get off trying to raise our taxes?

It's well past time the Legislature fires that imbecile.

Dark Knight said...

This ass clown proposes all of these tax increases and at the same time continues to underfund the one decent asset we have in in Niagara County -- NCCC.

While the economy is struggling Lewis gives all of his cronies fat 3 percent raises and gives the college a big fat zero, forcing a increase in tuition.

I can't wait to this moron's contract is up and he is sent packing back to obscurity in the Midwest.

James T. Kirk said...

Good points, DK. But more important, from my POV, is that Lewis failed to quantify the cost savings from any of this stuff. The Leg has four roughly half a decade now cut taxes and cut spending. The resolution that they passed was in reaction to concerns over state budget cuts--basically, come up with a contingency plan for how we'd cope with losing a bunch of state funding here in Niagara County.

So, how does Lewis respond? By proposing that the Legislature start holding meetings more in tune with what they hold in Minnesota. And pushing for construction of his government campus pipedream by raising taxes.

Where, exactly, are the cost savings in that?

The joke that is Greg Lewis stopped being funny a long time ago.

Dark Knight said...

By poopchute you must mean your friggin mouth for the shit that pews from it because I don't work at NCCC nor do I have any family or friends employed there.

I view it as only one of a few major institutions we have in Niagara County that can bring the county together and ultimately could help drive some economic development if used the right way.

Higher ed institutions across the country are often used as vehicles of economic growth but you have to have the right leadership in place.
Unfortantely, Lewisis a putz who is too focused on his ill-fated campus complex idea.

That's not to say NCCC doesn't have it's union issues, etc. but

rob clark said...

I have been saying it for God knows how long, its time to let him and his red stained sweatshirt go.

Niagara Prognosticator said...

Hobbes owes Lewis somewhat of a correction, if not an apology. According to Prohaska, this "plan" Hobbes refers to is none the sort. These are simply "brainstorming" ideas distributed to legislators for their feed back via an email. Brainstorming is an exercise that typically occurs near the beginning of a process. This is hardly a "proposal" either. Proposals come in the form of budgets or resolutions.

This is one way a good manager works. These ideas might not even be all Lewis' ideas. Although a consolidated PW building is recognized as pure Lewis, the others may be from other interested participants. A manager or facilitator seeks input from many sources, including department heads (aka bureaucrats), legislators, trade journals, etc., compiles a list and puts them out for the decision-makers to give feedback on which ones may have legs. Brainstorming.

Perhaps the more important question is which of the legislators "leaked" an email that is an internal working document. Obviously the point is to shoot down any idea that comes from Lewis.

It seems a sneaky, underhanded way the "call out" Lewis without risking identity exposure. So who among the legislators are so opposed to Lewis that he or she would do such a thing? There is nothing wrong about having this view, but one would hope that our politicians would be honorable enough to stand up publicly for his or her views.

A leaked email to an obscure blog is simply political cowardice.

(No. Palidin, As I am not a member of DelMonte's staff, I am also not a member of Lewis' staff, family or any other part of any inner circle. So perhaps you can resist the ad hominem this time? I'm guess not.)

Niagara Prognosticator said...

BTW. I question how a public works building could cost $40 million?

Certainly the new courthouse/police building in Niagara Falls is a much more complex undertaking. Site preparation alone was super expensive. The Cambria option is virgin land. The building itself should be not much more than a large barn with attached office space. The NF building is a complex secure site housing a police agency, courts and a jail.

But from published reports, the total cost of the NF building grew! to $45 million. So why do some legislators keep pushing the $40 million roadblock against the PW building?

I might suggest that investigation may reveal that there are certain vested political interests in perpetuating the ill-conceived practice of leasing vital county facilities from private interests in buildings scattered around Lockport and Niagara Falls. It is to legislators from both cities from which such an investigation might begin.

Frank DeGeorge said...

NP, if you're right, I'm glad someone threw Lewis under the bus. He has undercut the Legislators so many times it nice to see someone give him some payback.

It also shows how weak he is intellectually. I take no issue with brainstorming, but brainstorming is generally when you come up with crazy, out of the box ideas that really get people to think in a new way. He proposed simplistic crap that shows no depth of thought and certainly no ideas for restructuring.

He needs to go.

Niagara Prognosticator said...

FD, Its one thing to throw someone under the bus. That;s OK with me, everyone in public life should be held accountable.

Its another to secret yourself in the shadows like a stalker. At best, really, really creepy.

If an individual legislator has an issue with Lewis' performance, he or she should not show such cowardice. Call Lewis out in public. Take a stand. advocate for change. Be a leader.

What good does it really do to throw this at the wall on this obscure blog? It is only fortuitous that the issues gained traction in the MSM and, at best for Hobbes' view, the article was a neutral exposition of the issues with legislators like Updegrove seemingly approving of the concept of the email as a discussion piece. Its good to see that none of the majority members saw this as "Lewis' plan." Directly contradicts Hobbes' spin, as Lewis noted.