Tonawanda News

February 20, 2013

Control board approves new, updated budget

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The Erie County control board approved the county’s four-year financial plan on Tuesday. 

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the new plan identifies an $8.7 million budget gap in 2013 and at least $8 million in gaps from 2014 to 2016, and is an amendment of the original plan approved in October. 

As a result, he said, the county Legislature adopted the 2013 budget and removed $8.5 million in property tax revenue along with $200,000 in additional spending while making cuts that do not reduce reoccurring expenses.

He also said the approval by the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority proves that the updated budget “presents a realistic look at the hard decisions that need to be made in order to bridge the budget gaps left by the legislature.” 

“The need to fill that $8.7 million hole this year and subsequent budget holes in future years is inescapable, and if the legislature does not possess the political will to seriously consider revenue enhancements, further large-scale cuts will be necessary in the future to structurally and realistically balance budgets over the next several years,” Poloncarz said. “Despite claims from some of my colleagues in county government, this is not a threat. It is just facing the fiscal reality of the situation. The gap closers included in this plan are simply a menu of possible actions, which could be used in a variety of combinations and ways.”

Some of the “gaps” Poloncarz refers to include the reduction of discretionary spending on cultural organizations and environmental groups, police patrols, and appropriations for the the county’s library system. 

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw said that the projected tax revenues from the original plan were inaccurate. 

“I feel vindicated by their review,” Mychajliw said, in a statement issued on Tuesday. “We share a grave concern with the county’s reliance on volatile sales tax revenues to balance budgets.”