Weekly Feature

2014-10-23 / Front Page

Erie County releases proposed budget


An increase of nearly $40 million in spending from 2014 is one of the key points of the proposed 2015 budget for Erie County

Released on Oct. 15, the general fund budget is $1.43 billion, representing a 2.86 percent or nearly $40 million increase.

According to County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a good budget should be a common-sense document that addresses the needs of constituents and spurs positive change in the community, and the budget being proposed is such a document.

“It was formed in a bipartisan manner, and is the product of careful consideration following numerous conversations with both caucuses of the Legislature on their priorities and needs,” he said in a statement.

Poloncarz said the property tax rate per $1,000 assessed value will remain at $5.03 in 2015.

He said the budget continues the effort by his administration to invest in the county’s infrastructure, enhance public health and safety and deliver services taxpayers need in the most cost-effective way possible.

With the budget proposal now moving to the legislature, several legislators offered opinions on the spending plan.

“The good news is there’s no proposed tax hike and number two, the county executive covered pretty much all the hot buttons that are out there, things like roads, bridges and libraries and other things in the budget,” said Legislature Chairperson John Mills.

Mills said it’s a great sign that revenue is up, but he noted that the spending increase of $40 million is aggressive, with money going to jobs that aren’t necessary.

He added that taxpayers deserve a reduction in the property tax.

Legislator Ed Rath said taking the $40 million spending increase under advisement is critical.

“That’s a tremendous increase in spending, and my colleagues and I need to break apart where all that additional spending is going because we’re going to have different priorities than what the county executive has,” Rath said. “I believe we’re going to be able to find ways to cut the property tax rate and still provide the core services we have to in Erie County.”

Rath said he believes the budget has a good amount of pork and patronage and plans to eliminate that to cut the property tax rate. He said that in going forward and examining the budget, the focus will be on the taxpayer.

“In the past, what we’ve proven is that our budget amendments are balanced and they do not harm our core services,” Rath said. “Any amendments we make still fulfill everything we have to do as a county government, but we believe we can do it and still put money back in the pocket of taxpayers.”

Rath said the budget is currently in the Finance and Management Committee. From there, meetings and hearings will be held in the middle of November to hear from all department heads on the 2015 spending plan. Following that process, the legislature will make its amendments and bring the budget to a vote in early December.

email: cgraham@beenews.com

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