It is safe to say that attendees of Monday’s town board meeting could cut the tension with a knife as Councilwoman Angela Wozniak sat before the town board and it’s residents and explained why she believes downsizing members is in the best interest of the town.
According to Wozniak’s proposal, downsizing the board from seven to five members would not only save taxpayer money but would also create efficiency in the town and reduce negative decisions. As residents applauded her proposal, Wozniak remained a lone wolf in her mission when fellow board members did not agree with various statements made.
“As far as doing it efficiently that’s why we’re here. I think for the safe of a better term you can’t let the fox run the hen house… the biggest thing you have to understand is that the supervisor can’t do it alone,” said Town of Cheektowaga Councilmember Jerry Kaminski.
Supervisor Mary Holtz agreed that when she first became supervisor she thought downsizing might not be such a bad idea but after seeing how much work is involved on a daily basis, she believes each and every board member is now a necessity.
Wozniak pointed out in her downsizing motion that since Councilwoman Patricia Jaworowicz has been absent, fellow board members have taken over her duties, therefore showing that the town is able to operate with one less member.
So why not downsize by one more?
“We have the lowest number of employees and the lowest number of town budget employees. We have the leanest number of people working for us. We have cut staff and we’ve consolidated various departments. This is why you need more town board members,” said Holtz. “I can’t do it all.”
In an email to fellow board members on Thursday, Feb. 7 Wozniak questions why every member on the board was issued Jaworowicz’s committee assignments except for her. She believes that since she is still in a position to take on more work, it would only make sense the members support her motion to downsize.
In response to Wozniak’s email, Holtz said the board members had already volunteered and have been working on Jaworowicz’s committee assignments for over a year. At Monday’s meeting, members also stated they did not mind taking on the extra work to help someone who is ill.
“My father suffers from Alzheimer’s. I’m not sure what Patty’s problem is, it has never been brought to the board but I can take on any hours that she’s missed just because I have a passion for somebody that is sick,” said Councilmember Charles Markel.
Residents shared mixed emotions towards the downsizing proposal. Joan Adams, President of the Cedargrove Action Committee, said downsizing the board would not help residents but hurt them. She believes there are other ways the town can save money and continue to save money without cutting members. Another resident stated the town board seems afraid to accept Wozniak’s motion because it could be put to a referendum.
“It seems like you just proved a whole point that it is possible to go down a member and take on other rolls so I don’t know why you’re so opposed to it?” said Elias Farah, Cheektowaga resident. “You’re saying you’re getting along just fine so why not downsize?”
Wozniak has amended her motion for Tuesday’s work session to include a mandatory referendum so that residents can have a say in the decision.