Erie County Legislators Discuss Budget; Must Approve by Midnight Tuesday

6:52 PM, Dec 3, 2012   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY-- Erie County Legislators must approve a budget by midnight Tuesday.

On Monday, the Legislature's Finance Committee met and heard from the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority and the Deputy County Executive. 

The legislators are divided on whether or not to approve the County Executive's budget which includes a 3.4% property tax hike.

A half dozen legislators would prefer to make 8.5 million in cuts.

Some of the proposed cuts include eliminating $3 million for the Risk Retention Fund, which is money set aside for lawsuits; a reduction of $1.9 million for the Department of Social Services ' Safety Net Assistance program, and a reduction in proposed funding for the Jail for overtime expenses.

At last check there are six legislators ready to vote in favor of a budget that does not include a property tax hike, but would make cuts.

If lawmakers fail to act, the County Executive's budget will take effect by default.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz's budget would increase property taxes by an additional 18 dollars per year for a $100,000 home. Poloncarz has said a property tax hike is the best way to maintain the quality of life and programs the public demands.

Poloncarz said he is open to compromise, but both sides need to compromise.  He said he has had productive meetings with members of the legislature, but doesn't think it is going to change anything.

He warned that there could be a hiring freeze, cuts across the board and a reduction in funding to libraries and culturals.

Erie County's deputy County Executive Rich Tobe told lawmakers that "these amendments are like making a decision to amend the family budget by reducing the amount you plan to pay for utilities, without turning the thermostat down."

"I think we're miles away from red and green budget. I mean, the comparison is a false one," said Kevin Hardwick, Erie County Legislator (R).

Legislature Chair Betty Jean Grant does not think a tax increase can be avoided.

 

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