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NFTA AUDIT PANEL WILL HELP

APPOINTMENT of a citizens commission to oversee a management audit of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority meets one of the conditions set by Erie County lawmakers in pledging dedicated transit funding.

Legislature Majority Leader Leonard Lenihan announced the appointments in consultation with Legislature Chairman Roger Blackwell and Republican Minority Leader Mary Lou Rath.

Lenihan said the plan is for the commission, headed by County Comptroller Alfreda Slominksi, to help select a management firm and to supervise both the study and the implementation of its results.

The majority leader rightly characterized the naming of the commission -- which includes several members with strong backgrounds in finance -- as "a very positive step" in resolving NFTA funding ills. This was not, however, the only condition set by the County Legislature in promising eventual transit funding. The lawmakers also want area governments to have representation on
the NFTA board, and state legislative action to achieve that desirable goal must not be delayed.

Currently, the NFTA is maintaining full transit operations with the help of emergency state and county aid, released by Gov. Cuomo in April after county lawmakers unanimously voted to adopt a long-term transit funding plan later this year. This aid, however, will run out at the end of 1989, and it is imperative that action on permanent funding be wrapped up before then.

Thousands of transit riders and businesses and institutions dependent on full bus and rail service certainly must be spared another round of threatened curtailments that could occur this winter if, for whatever reason, agreement on stable county funding is not achieved.

Creation of the audit commission is only a preliminary step, but it signifies a welcome effort to clear the way for closing the NFTA funding gap and assuring county taxpayers that the transportation authority will be efficiently operated.

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