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WGRZ Story on Erie County Cash Flow Problems

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Erie County has a huge budget of well over a billion dollars, and so on any given day literally millions of dollars can be coming in in the form of taxes or other revenues, and going out to pay bills.

Part of the county comptroller's responsibility is to manage that cash flow.

Typically, in January and February the county doesn't have a lot of cash on hand because it's waiting for property tax money to come in.

Here's the county's current situation: ECMC is due a payment of $15 million next week.

But right now the county only has $9.6 million on hand, and so as you can see, well Houston we've got a problem.

Stefan Mychajliw took over as comptroller this week after defeating David Shenk in November.

Scott Brown: "Should this have been brought to your attention by David Shenk, your predecessor?"

Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw: "Yes the alarm should have been sounded by my predecessor, unfortunately, I can't answer for him and I have no idea why it wasn't."

County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who was comptroller for six years himself, says Shenk, the former comptroller and like Poloncarz a Democrat, gave him a heads up last week right before he left office that the county might have cash flow problems in January.

County Executive Poloncarz: "My understanding is in the last month the Comptroller's office (under Shenk) made a lot of payments that probably could have been pushed off until later."

Scott Brown: "So it seems like you're saying this is Shenk's fault, that he could have held off paying some bills and he didn't do that and that's why we're in this situation?"

County Executive Poloncarz: "I didn't say that, I didn't say it was Shenk's fault, I don't know what happened. I did hear that they paid some bills that they could have held off for a little bit early, but that happens."

So, what about that big payment that's due to ECMC?

Well the county has asked ECMC if it can delay the payment until March, when the county will be flush with property tax revenues, and ECMC has agreed.

So, should taxpayers be concerned about all this?

The control board says no. Its chairman, James Sampson declined an on camera interview but in a statement to 2 On Your Side, "We're confident that the County Executive and Comptroller can address this short term cash issue until property tax revenues come in."

Source: WGRZ
Scott Brown, January 5, 2013

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