February 4, 2022
The town supervisors of two rural towns on the border of New York’s Erie County are fed up with oppressive COVID-19 restrictions and are looking into how they might secede from Erie County and be annexed by neighboring Wyoming County.
Marilla Town Supervisor Earl Gingerich Jr. explained why his town wants to become part of Wyoming County: “We feel we fit better because we are more rural and agricultural.”
Gingerich has been repeatedly at odds with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat, who has imposed draconian COVID restrictions in the county, such as indoor mask mandates.
“It’s come to the forefront due to these executive orders and the, we believe, heavy handed tactics of the county government from the county executive and his management team,” Gingerich said.
Tim Howard, the town supervisor of Wales, N.Y., which also borders Wyoming County, agreed with Gingerich that leaving Erie County might be a good move for his town, and would give its residents a more powerful voice.
“I very much recognize the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t,” Howard said.
According to WIVB-4 in Buffalo, it is possible for these towns to leave Erie County. Under New York State’s General Municipal Law, a petition or resolution by the governing boards of the local governments involved can start the process.
“Once we get the preliminary study done and it looks favorable, then we will move forward on the petition process,” Gingerich said.
But, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz believes such an effort would be a mistake, claiming that if these towns left Erie County, “their residents would face very large tax increases and loss of services from such ill-thought out action.”
“For more than 200 years, the people of Erie County have been united in our effort to create a better community for all,” Poloncarz said in a statement. “Erie County always works better when we work together, and my administration will always work to find ways to unite our community rather than split it apart.”
However, Poloncarz’s leadership in Erie County has alienated many residents. According to Gingerich, other towns in Erie are also interested in annexation to other bordering counties.