BUFFALO, N.Y. — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced his proposed budget for 2022 on Thursday and was excited to announce a drop in property tax.
Sales tax revenue made a major rebound in 2021 following a drop last year because of COVID-19. Growth in 2021 was 22.8%, which was attributed to sales tax collected from online sales that were recently able to be collected on a local level because of a Supreme Court ruling.
With this bounce back, the property tax rate will be reduced from $4.42 per thousand to $4.33 per thousand, the lowest property tax rate in modern Erie County history.
"We can go back many years. It is the lowest tax rate any Erie County Executive has ever presented," Poloncarz said.
A couple of new programs were also announced for next year. The first was a $10 million Storefront Revitalization Grant Program, which will be open to the entire county.
The program aims to help businesses renovate and improve their storefronts and is based on the popular Community Development Block Grants program. The program will go into effect in January, and more details will be released in the coming months.
Another program announced was a $9 million workforce development pilot program developed with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. The purpose of the program is to get people past the "benefits cliff" where it makes more sense for someone to not seek promotion because they would lose benefits. The program would continue providing supports to help people move past this point.
"It's a pilot program, it is not meant to assist thousands of individuals, but we believe we will be able to help about 200 families," Poloncarz said. After the program is over data we collected to see if the program will be worthwhile. Poloncarz is hoping the program will reduce the amount the county will have to spend in the long run.
With American Rescue Plan funding $24 million over four years will be used for COVID-19 response.
The number of jobs in the county will be lower than in past years, but unlike 2021 jobs are being added back, including in law enforcement, which took a hit last year.
“One thing my administration has not done is defund the police, we have invested in law enforcement,” Poloncarz said.
Other areas to receive more funding include a $1 million additional contribution to SUNY Erie Community College and the largest funding announced by the county for arts and culture at almost $37 million.