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Sklarski departs to join Town Board

Danny W. Sklarski resigned from the Niagara County Legislature on Wednesday, the morning after he was appointed to a vacancy on the Niagara Town Board.

Sklarski, a registered Democrat who caucused with the Republicans during his 10 years in the Legislature, had said he was leaning toward running for town office this year instead of seeking another term in the Legislature.

Tuesday's appointment by the Town Board made that a sure thing.

Sklarski said he intends to run for a full four-year term as a councilman in November. He served 10 years on the Town Board, six of them as deputy supervisor, before winning a Legislature seat in the 2001 election.

"With the experience I have and the contacts I've made in 10 years as a Niagara County legislator, I can be a strong resource to Supervisor [Steven C.] Richards and the Town Board," he said.

For the last few years, Sklarski has made no secret of his desire to return to town government.

The chance came last month, when the Town Board appointed Councilman Robert E. Herman highway superintendent to succeed Michael J. Moyer, who retired.

Now Sklarski will serve out Herman's term on the board while running for his own full term this fall. He said, "I think I accomplished the goals I set out for myself as a county legislator."

Among those were improving the county's fiscal health. A decade ago, the county had no surplus funds. "We now have a healthy fund balance, way beyond expectations. We've had three bond rating increases. I attribute that to the fiscal team we put in place, which included hiring a county manager," Sklarski said.

The county also has been able to reduce its work force by 18 percent and cut its average full-value tax rate.

Sklarski often pushed for spending cuts during budget debates and in 2009 proposed a property tax cap for the county, which did not pass. He voted against the imposition of the 8 percent sales tax in 2003 and always voted against renewing it.

Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, said he will attend to Sklarski's district until a successor is appointed. "I'd like to get somebody on board by the second meeting in May [which is the 17th of the month]," Ross said.

Sklarski is the third legislator to resign since the 2010 election, and four other incumbents have said they won't seek re-election as the Legislature is downsized to 15 members, from 19.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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