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Republican expected to be reappointed to Water Authority board

The lone Republican on the three-member Erie County Water Authority Board of Commissioners is positioned to be reappointed by the County Legislature at its next regular session.

Earl L. Jann, whose current three-year term on the board expires in April, was the only candidate seeking to fill the post during an interview conducted Thursday by the Legislature’s Energy and Environment Committee.

The brief interview was in stark contrast to the nearly three-hour session held in late November for more than a dozen candidates seeking to fill the unexpired term of Democrat Christopher J. O’Brien, who resigned the commissioner’s post six months after his appointment last spring.

Jerome D. Schad, former majority counsel for the Legislature, was tapped by Democrats to fill the remainder of O’Brien’s term.

Francis G. Warthling, who serves as chairman of the authority, is the other Democrat on the board. His term expires in 2015.

Jann served 15 years on the Marilla Town Board, seven and a half years of it as supervisor.

He was appointed to his first term on the authority board in May 2011. During his tenure, Jann said he attended almost every staff meeting of the water authority and made numerous visits to facilities owned by the authority in order to improve his understanding of its operations.

“Armed with that information, I’ve made a number of recommendations, which, I believe, will improve efficiencies,” Jann told lawmakers Thursday.

He said they include updating the authority’s fleet of vehicles, which helped save 20 percent in maintenance and fuel costs.

He also approved the hiring of consultants to audit water authority’s operations, which, he said, ended up saving the authority millions of dollars, and approved the razing of two outdated and idle tanks so the properties on which they were erected could be put to other uses.

The authority also has accelerated the number of suburban communities seeking to become direct service customers, in which the water authority owns and operates their systems and assumes responsibility for their maintenance.

“Alden is now direct serve. Williamsville was scheduled to become direct serve on June 1,” Jann said.

“West Seneca, Marilla, Aurora and the Village of Hamburg are also in various stages of moving to direct service. This has been a special interest of mine, since I believe it will be better for the ratepayers and the authority,” he added.

The water authority, a $65.9 million annual operation, currently has 165,937 customer accounts.