Downsizing Approved in Erie County, Amherst

November 2, 2010 Updated Nov 3, 2010 at 2:30 PM EDT

By WKBW Programming

November 2, 2010 Updated Nov 3, 2010 at 2:30 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Civic leader Kevin Gaughan said local government has to be a boost not a burden. He's been working for more than three years to make that happen.

"On our path to smaller government and a stronger economy, downsizing the Erie County government is a large step," Gaughan said.

Residents in Erie County agreed after voting for a referendum that will reduce the number of county legislators from 15 to 11. Gaughan said the goal is to decrease the number of politicians in local government, while increasing citizen participation and ultimately reducing taxes.

"What we're trying to do is find increasing ways for citizens to make direct decision and not need representation. So the work I do is to summon people back to town hall," Gaughan said.

In Amherst, residents including David Schichtel, voted to decrease their town board from seven to five.

"We have to start some place to reduce the size of this horrendous government," Schichtel said.

Others, like Legislator Barbara Miller, disagree saying it will hurt citizens in the long run.

"With that you're going to have is elimination of services, reduction of services, and those tax paying citizens who deserve to have representation. Unfortunately, they will be cut out of the loop," Miller said.

Gaughan doesn't buy that argument.

"I think the representation argument put forth by politicians is just a code word for protecting turf. It would resonate if there wasn't one harsh reality. We have ten times the representation than any similar size community in America," Gaughan said.

Gaughan said there is still a long way to go but he will continue the fight. He is working toward a referendum on the ballot next year that could decrease the size of state legislature.