By Joseph Kissel
“I’m not the axman everyone thinks I am,” said incoming Falls councilman Chris Voccio.
The now-retired newspaper publisher arrived here in 2014 to turn around The Niagara Gazette (after many similar assignments in other parts of the county) and reducing expenses considerably.
“Even when you think you are cut to the bone, there are ways to do more,” Mr. Voccio said.
As a libertarian (who ran as a Republican) Mr. Voccio believes in “free enterprise, creating wealth and jobs and opportunity” and identifies as a “social conservative.”
“The ideal that appeals to me is to regulate as little as possible,” he said.
Starting Jan. 1st, Chris Voccio is determined to put Niagara Falls city government “on a diet.”
Unfortunately, he does not believe a tax cut will materialize in the near future.
“We can’t provide tax relief any time soon but once we get the spending under control and we can show that to investors and developers.”
One of the changes Mr. Voccio says he wants to implement is starting a budget advisory panel, which the City of North Tonawanda implemented during 2017 and reported improved results from it.
As a libertarian, Mr. Voccio ideally would like to see a smaller, more limited government.
“A lot of Trump Republicans are OK with big, heavy-handed government. I believe limited is the way it should be and the way it was meant to be. There’s a difference between anarchy and libertarianism.”
As a libertarian he believes in fiscal responsibility, economic development and public safety.
“Crime has intensified. My take is that public safety is the primary role of government and most libertarians would agree with that. I have a real problem with saying ‘let’s start with the police department.'”
That said, he isn’t looking to cut city positions straight away instead preferring to find efficiencies in the departments
“You will hear about the 10-5 plan on Day 1.”
The plan is straightforward: 10 percent salary reductions for all elected officials in the city, and ask city employees to come forth with ideas to reduce the city budget by 5 percent.
“It’s vital to get employees involved to save the city’s financial situation,” the councilman-elect said.
“We are not waiting for the budget season, and the incoming city council is much more cooperative in working together to control the excessive spending we’ve seen in the past.”
“I get along well with Bill Kennedy. We have talked numerous times before and since the election, and I think the council will work well together. There are many things we agree on: transparency, reduced spending and righting the fiscal ship.”
“There will be more consensus on pocketbook issues, and I think Bill will be a big part of it.”
And importantly, Mr. Voccio said this about himself: “I’m beholden to no one. nobody gave me any money from none of the parties.”