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Erie County Executive's COVID emergency spending powers pulled back

Mark Poloncarz's administration has accepted the need for spending authorization from from the county legislature.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — It may be another sign of things getting back to normal with another move by government leaders to restore the traditional balance of power.

This comes as COVID cases continue to decline while vaccinations increase. Erie County lawmakers decided Thursday to take away special emergency spending powers for the county executive.

It seems like a life time ago, but just last year on Easter weekend, it was big news that Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced the county had secured more bulk shipments of that crucial personal protection equipment like masks, gloves and other gear to protect health care workers and others deemed to be on the "frontlines" in battling COVID.

And to help do so he had been granted emergency spending powers up to $250,000 on a contract by the Erie County Legislature. 

Now in June of 2021, those same lawmakers, including Democrats who side with Poloncarz, say it's time to turn back to their normal legislative oversight duties.

Legislator Lisa Chimera said during the meeting: "It was a financial obligation to make those crucial decisions that gave authority to purchase PPE. Then it went to testing, then it went to vaccinations and I think that was crucial. And now is the time to take it back. To take that responsibility back."

Also the minority caucus of three Republicans and one conservative, who tried and failed with opposition of majority Democrats in a similar effort back in March, also now saying, according to the leader Legislator Joseph Lorigo.

"We can work together with the administration in a way that's more collaborative and addresses our districts' needs rather than just being told what's going to happen. Not to say that at any point I feel that was occurring,  but now we can ensure we have that seat at the table," Lorigo said.

And the Poloncarz administration, which as we reported signaled their OK last week through their deputy budget director, was in agreement with that legislature vote, according to a spokesperson.