Erie County Water Authority Censured by NYS Authorities Budget Office

Report calls for resignation of Commissioner Jerome Schad

June 12, 2018 - 1:05 pm
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - New York State's Authorities Budget Office is censuring the members of the Erie County Water Authority Board of Commissioners that served on the board in 2016 and 2017. 

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE

Those commissioners were Earl Jann, Robert Anderson, Karl Simmeth, and Jerome Schad. Schad is the only commissioner remaining of the four. 

The 37-page report released on Tuesday said those commissioners were not meeting their fiduciary duty and failed to act independently and with the duty of loyalty and care to the organization. 

"Board members routinely approve resolutions and transactions without having adequate information upon which to base their decisions," the report read. "Board members should be receiving and reviewing board meeting packets prior to every meeting in order to be able to engage fully in the board's decision-making process."

The report cited an example from last April where they hired a deputy director with a 36 percent increase in salary without any evaluation of their performance. It also cited a December 2016 incident where they approved a declaration of an emergency and hired a local law firm without any information describing the nature of the emergency. The water authority paid $143,887 for the contract. 

The Authority was also cited for a lack of transparency in providing customers appropriate information regarding planned rate increases and the Authority didn't provide all documents related to FOIL requirements. 

It recommends the Erie County Legislature remove Schad from his post. 

Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo is among the members who believes Schad should be eliminated.

"I think customers aren't getting their money's worth," Lorigo told WBEN. "These are people who are paying their hard-earned money as rate payers to the authority and they're not getting their money's worth based on people who should be shepherding tax dollars or rate dollars in terms of shepherding the public's trust."

Lorigo and democrat Tom Loughran are both calling for Schad's resignation. 

Schad tells WBEN there's been an about face when it comes to transparency, with agenda items on the ECWA website a week in advance of a meeting. "Notices are sent out to the media to that effect. We have on our website the opportunity for people to asked to be notified of meetings, and we record our discussions and put them on our website," says Schad. He says he had to look for information on important resolutions and says he had the proper information to make an informed decision.

Schad adds he will not resign. "I am committed to continuing the reforms. We have implented 16 of 21 recommendations already, and we disagree with some of the report's findings," says Schad.  

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