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CITY, COUNTY SET TALKS ON SHARING SERVICES

City and Niagara County officials plan to get together next week to discuss ways their governments might share services and cut costs.

The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday in Council Chambers at City Hall, and is expected to include the City Council, Mayor Irene J. Elia, City Administrator Albert T. Joseph and seven county legislators who represent districts that are either partially or entirely within the boundaries of Niagara Falls.

The group's last meeting Dec. 6 yielded no specific plans for consolidating city-county services, but County Legislator Samuel P. Granieri, R-Niagara Falls, said it is vital that some concrete ideas eventually emerge.

"We have to take a good hard look at all the layers of government we have in Niagara County and decide how much of it we can afford," Granieri said.

"We have 21 separate governments in a county with less than three-quarters of a million people. We're subdivided into too many small entities with no cohesion or integration of purpose, and we're paying for it. The bureaucracy is siphoning off more of our resources, which could be going back into the pockets of the taxpayers, where I'd much rather see them go."

Previously, the group discussed plans to consolidate road maintenance, 911 dispatch services and tourism efforts, said Granieri, chairman of the county's Charter Review Commission. That panel is exploring proposals to reduce the size of the Legislature and establish a county executive's post to centralize leadership in the county.

The city, meanwhile, has been exploring consolidation opportunities with the Niagara Falls School District. Those talks, too, produced nothing concrete, though city and school district officials are set to meet again March 7 in City Hall.

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