Tonawanda News — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s proposed $1.39 billion budget for 2014, which was released Tuesday, holds property taxes at the same rate since 2009.
“The 2014 proposed budget addresses the significant needs of our community at a time when Erie County faces tremendous opportunities along with fiscal burdens,” Poloncarz said in a statement.
The property tax rate will remain at $5.03 per $1,000 of assessed value, the proposed budget details, and the general fund will amount to $1.392 billion, up by 1.1 percent — or $15.5 million — from 2013.
The increases are partially due to the expanding of the New York State Constitutional Safety Net program, the adding of new positions to the jail management division and increases in personal service expenses under new contract agreements, Poloncarz said in his budget message.
“The county settled contracts with the Sheriff Police Benevolent Association, Teamsters, CSEA Correction officers and medical staff, and New York State Nurses Association,” Poloncarz said. “These positive developments generated significant intermediate and long-term savings to the county through work concessions and employee payments for health insurance, but it also requires cost of living adjustments for 2014 that place pressure on the budget.”
The initial estimates for the budget indicated a $29.2 million gap, which was reduced to $17.9 million with the use of departmental cuts.
The $17.9 million will be accounted for through the use of $5.4 million in the fund balance, $3.9 million from the closing of dormant capital accounts and $8.6 million savings from a state program that caps increases to pension plans.
Under the proposed budget, the county will provide additional operating funds for the Buffalo Convention Center and Visit Buffalo-Niagara. The county will also allocate $2 million for brownfield redevelopment in the county, $100,000 in funding for the creation of a Greater Toronto economic development office and $5 million for Erie Community College programs.
“With these initiatives, we are leveraging existing resources and partnerships to build capacity in areas that will be critical to the county’s future growth,” Poloncarz said.
The county will also add $415,867 in new operating funding to the Buffalo and Erie County libraries, $2 million for the rehabilitation of greenhouses at the Botanical Gardens and $36 million in operating and infrastructure investments for highways, roads and bridges.
The Erie County Legislature will now review the budget. Lawmakers must pass a spending plan by Dec. 3.