Tonawanda News

September 30, 2011

Collins releases 2012 Erie County budget

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

BUFFALO — Erie County Executive Chris Collins on Friday unveiled his proposed 2012 budget plan that keeps the county’s property tax rate flat while eliminating 308 positions, 155 of which are currently filled.

Job cuts are concentrated in the Department of Social Services, according to a statement released by Collins’ office, in which he says technological improvements have helped streamline services.

Collins credited his own administration for sound fiscal decisions and tough budgeting that he said has improved the county’s finances greatly.

It has come with eliminating 940 employees, or 20 percent of the county workforce since taking office.

“While I do not like to see anyone lose their job, I have a commitment to continue to right-size Erie County government and provide services with the fewest number of taxpayer supported positions as possible,” Collins said.

The $1.1 billion spending plan maintains critical services and increases money set aside to repair the county’s aging roads and bridges.

The road fund would see a boost, coming in at an increased total of $14 million, as well as a six year capital plan worth $429 million for work throughout the county.

About $2.2 million is included for countywide parks. Contractual upgrades to Erie Community College, Visit Buffalo Niagara and Ralph Wilson Stadium will also be honored, among other things.

Collins credited Lean Six Sigma initiatives for helping save some $5 million over the past year and announced a salary is included in the budget for the department’s director, who has previously been paid using grant money no longer available.

In a statement, Collins, who is running for re-election this year, says county finances have improved over his tenure. He credited savings for helping achieve a balanced budget proposal despite mandatory Medicaid costs that grew by $5.2 million last year, a bill paid using almost all of the county’s property tax revenue.

The county’s obligation to pensioners also increased by $4 million.