An Erie County commission was appointed Friday to oversee a management study of the NFTA, one of the conditions that county legislators set earlier this year for eventual county funding for the financially troubled transit agency.
The commission, headed by County Comptroller Alfreda Slominski, will work with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to determine the scope of the study, said Legislature Majority Leader Leonard R. Lenihan, who announced the appointments.
The group also will supervise the audit, which will be conducted by a firm yet to be named, and the implementation of its results, Lenihan said.
"I see this as a very positive step," Lenihan said. "I would fully expect the commission to develop a series of proposals that will focus on an effective, efficient and economical transportation system."
While there's no deadline for completion or implementation of the audit, Lenihan, D-Town of Tonawanda, said he expects the commission to present the Legislature with a timetable by the end of the year.
The County Legislature earlier this year demanded the audit as a condition for county development of a long-term funding plan for the NFTA. That plan is expected by the end of the year. The state has tied continued state funding of the NFTA to development of a county revenue source for the authority.
NFTA spokesman Darryl Rasuli said authority officials feel it is well managed, but added that they welcome the proposed management study. One issue to be addressed, he said, is who will finance the study.
"We've always said we welcome a study because it would help us, but the problem has always been the costs," Rasuli said. "It's been estimated it could be as high as $250,000, and we didn't have the money."
Lenihan said the county, state and NFTA will be negotiating the funding issue.
"While that is being negotiated, the commission will work on determining the scope of the audit," he said.
He added that the commission and the NFTA will select a firm to do the audit.
In addition to Mrs. Slominski, commission members are: William Oliverio, a partner in the law firm of Davis-Oliverio; Dalvin LaMar, finance director with the American Red Cross; Robert Reschke, comptroller with Key Bank of Western New York; Frank C. Harding, retired vice chairman of M&T Bank; Gregory Stein of the University at Buffalo's Urban Geography and Planning Department; James P. Moscato, an accountant, and Bradley J. Hurd of the United Taxpayers League.