Tonawanda News

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December 1, 2012

County calls GOP plan 'irresponsible'

Tonawanda News — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz slammed the legislature’s minority caucus for suggested cuts to his 2013 budget proposal. 

In a letter sent to the caucus on Wednesday, Poloncarz warned that $8,514,324 in cuts proposed by a Republican coalition was irresponsible and would create funding shortages in future budgets that could force oversight by the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority to impose a control period. 

Poloncarz has proposed a 3.4 percent property tax increase that he said would restore funding to county libraries and cultural organizations, though the cuts suggested by the five-person Republican caucus wouldn’t affect those entities. 

“No one wants to propose or vote for a property tax increase,” he said. “However, given the increases in mandated costs and reductions in other revenues we are seeing for next year, this was the option of last resort and the only responsible thing to do in order to preserve the quality-of-life programs and services residents have demanded.”

The control board also approved the county executive’s proposed $1.3 billion 2013 budget and four-year financial plan on Oct. 26, though the minority caucus would like to scale the tax increase down to zero. They’ve proposed shaving overtime costs for the county jail as well as legal settlements, among others.

But the Republican caucus and at least one Democratic legislator say they are not in favor of the planned property tax increase. Republican Legislator Kevin Hardwick said that in fact their proposal, which would entail a zero increase to the tax scenario, follows many of the precepts Poloncarz lauded as feasible when he was still the Erie County Comptroller in 2011. 

“I think with a $1.3 billion budget there is some room for excess,” Hardwick said. “We are $8 million from his budget to holding the line on taxes and the places we’ve looked quite frankly are places that he recommended last year.” 

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