A move by Amherst officials toward merging Erie County's six industrial development agencies may soon get a little help from newly elected politicians in Lancaster.
After being sworn in Saturday, Lancaster's two new Town Board members are expected to ask that the board follow in Amherst's footsteps by exploring the idea of consolidating IDAs.
"The public wants change," said Richard D. Zarbo, one of two Republicans who ousted incumbents in November for seats on the previously all-Democratic Lancaster Town Board. "If politicians want to stay in office, they'd better react."
Georgette F. Pelletterie, the other Republican winner in Lancaster's elections this fall, said she agrees.
"We need this to bring in business countywide and Lancasterwide," she said.
Whether they can get a third vote is another question. Lancaster Supervisor Robert H. Giza, who heads the town's IDA, did not return calls to comment but has not supported merging in the past.
Deputy Supervisor Mark A. Montour said he would reserve final judgment until seeing the motion, but he said he believed Lancaster already works closely with the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.
"It's not like we're out there competing with other agencies," he said. "We work with the county. We share the work, we share expertise, and we share fees."
The other board member, Donna G. Stempniak, could not be reached to comment.
In any case, Amherst officials were pleased with Zarbo and Pelletterie's effort.
"Delighted," said GOP Amherst Council Member William L. Kindel, who at first resisted the idea of a single IDA but later converted because of his concerns about the area's economy.
"Heartened," said Amherst Council Member Daniel J. Ward, author of the motion, approved 5-2 last month, to explore merging Amherst and other Erie County industrial development agencies. IDAs use incentives, such as tax breaks, to attract new industry.
Ward said he later sent letters to officials in Lancaster, Clarence, Hamburg and Concord -- the other Erie County towns with IDAs -- asking them also to think about giving up their agencies in favor of one countywide unit.
"I didn't hear from anybody," he said.
Now, Kindel said, he is so encouraged by Zarbo and Pelletterie's response that he plans to write again to Lancaster, Clarence and this time even Cheektowaga, though it doesn't have an IDA, to set up a meeting.
"We all share a border. Let's talk," he said. "No obligations. No preconditions. Let's just see where it will go. Maybe this time the light at the end of the tunnel isn't a train."