By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — The town board unanimously passed a resolution Monday night supporting a petition to keep the Social Security office in Amherst open.
"The elderly and the disabled are the ones who need the assistance of the Social Security office," Supervisor Anthony Caruana said, noting that the town has a significant senior-citizen population.
The Social Security Administration announced on Jan. 15 that it would close the Sheridan Drive office and consolidate it with the Buffalo location — which is 9.1 miles away. The next closest office is in West Seneca, more than 14 miles away from the town, Caruana noted.
Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, has also vowed to fight the closure, and has introduced a bill that would prevent the Social Security Administration from closing field offices before providing adequate justification.
“Easy access to the services provided by Social Security field offices are critical to community members who need those services most,” Higgins said. “This legislation will halt the closure of any offices until all factors are considered. If the Social Security Administration would really take the time to understand the unique population it serves out of the Amherst office, I’m confident they would realize, like this community does, the need to keep that office open.”
The bill would require the administration to provide a report to Congress that would caseload data, staffing levels and information on the population that the office serves.
"The recent fiscal year 2014 budget appropriated an additional $11.7 billion to the Social Security Administration for administrative expenses, which should provide the financial stability to alleviate the need to close field offices across the country," Higgins said while introducing the bill last month.
The board also approved a subdivision application submitted by Timothy Caya, who owns 2088 Niagara Falls Blvd. A portion of the property will be sold to the Green Acres Animal Hospital for an expansion.
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.