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Erie County Water Authority commissioner resigns

A Republican commissioner on the Erie County Water Authority resigned Thursday, a little more than a year after being named to the panel that oversees the delivery of water to Buffalo's suburbs.

Karl J. Simmeth Jr., who began his three-year term in May 2017, said in a letter to the county Legislature that he is resigning because of the policies of the New York State and Local Retirement System.

Simmeth, who is 62, later told The Buffalo News he will officially retire May 30 as a maintenance supervisor at Erie County Medical Center with 33 years of service. But in order to begin collecting his pension he had to be off all public payrolls for at least one day. So he also resigned as a Water Authority commissioner, which pays him $22,500 annually.

He said he's not interested in being reappointed to the authority, "as much as I love the job."

"I ran all the numbers," he said, "and I'm ready to retire."

As the county Legislature returned to Democratic control this year, Democrats also took control of the Water Authority. That left Simmeth, a former Town of Boston councilman, as the lone Republican on the authority's three-member board of commissioners.

Karl Simmeth. (News file photo)

Simmeth announced his resignation as the Water Authority concluded one of its meetings Thursday, and he delivered his  letter to the county Legislature's chambers soon after.

"I am grateful for having had the opportunity to serve on the board of this fine organization for the past year," he wrote, "and wish it continued success."

It's up to the county Legislature to replace Simmeth. A Legislature source indicated the vacancy is likely to be filled by another Republican or by someone who is not a Democrat.

Under the Water Authority's rules, no more than two water commissioners can belong to the same party. Water Authority Chairman Jerome D. Schad is a Democrat. So is the newest commissioner, local attorney Mark S. Carney.

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