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Oliverio deserves applause; Steady leadership of control board paid off for the county's taxpayers

The theory is that change is good and so, clinging to that idea, we will accept the notion that the resignation of Daniel C. Oliverio as chairman of the Erie County control board will amount to a positive step. It's hard at the moment to envision how, given the successes Oliverio had as head of the board in dealing with an obstinate county administration, but never mind. Out with the old. Change is good.

Still, it's worth noting that Oliverio's leadership helped to save taxpayers millions of dollars. To do that, the board had to persuade then-County Executive Chris Collins and the County Legislature to allow the control board to borrow on the county's behalf.

That should have been a no-brainer, since the better credit rating of the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority allowed it to borrow at a more favorable interest rate. But the brains were malfunctioning in County Hall. Collins, who campaigned in 2007 as a friend of the control board, turned on it virtually from the moment he was elected, refusing for years to give it the authority it needed to do the borrowing.

That began to change two years ago, when Oliverio took over as the board's chairman. Under his leadership, Collins softened his view and the board began using its greater borrowing power to the benefit of county taxpayers. What that means is this: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has a tall order to fill in selecting a new chairman. And not only that, Cuomo also needs to fill two other vacancies on the seven-member board.

In the end, that will be the test of the theory of change. Taxpayers need to know that Cuomo, looking out for their interests, will appoint a savvy and tough, yet collaborative, leader for the authority.

That's a start, but taxpayers also need to know that their new County Executive, Mark C. Poloncarz, will work with the board to the taxpayers' advantage. True, the board is in a soft, or advisory, state, but its resources -- not to mention its influence -- should not be dismissed.

But that's for tomorrow. For today, taxpayers can be grateful for Oliverio's public service. He is stepping down because, since June, he has also been chairman of his law firm, Hodgson Russ. Something had to give, he said, and so he is leaving the control board to focus on the business that also needs his attention. For Hodgson Russ, change is definitely good.