Affirmative Legislature Vote Approves Balanced Budget with Minimum Amendments, Maintains Critical Services, Invests in Infrastructure
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Erie County Legislator Timothy Hogues (D-1st District), to discuss the passage of the Fiscal Year 2014 Erie County Budget (“the Budget”). On Tuesday, the Legislature voted 6-5 to approve the Budget, which holds the line on property taxes, maintains quality of life programs and services demanded by the public, and makes targeted investments in infrastructure and economic & workforce development initiatives, among other areas.
“I commend the Legislature for the thoughtfulness and diligence they showed throughout the budget process, and for passing this balanced budget that protects taxpayers while recognizing Erie County’s economic realities,” said Poloncarz. “We are all residents of this great County, and this document reaffirms my administration’s ongoing commitment to building a County that works for everyone. With their vote to approve the 2014 Budget, the Legislature has shown that they understand not only the importance of investing in and enhancing the programs I identified as ‘Initiatives for a Smart Economy’, but also the value of the ‘People’s Mandates’ and the quality of life that they provide. This important Budget not only reinforces past accomplishments, it lays the foundation for future successes, and with the Budget’s passage we are working toward them right now.”
In close alignment with the Initiatives for a Smart Economy, the Budget leverages existing resources and partnerships to build capacity in sectors that are vital to the County’s future growth. Chief among these are:
- Providing $100,000 in new funding for the creation of a new Greater Toronto area economic development office to assist Canadian and foreign companies to locate businesses and industries in Erie County, such as the Welded Tube investment in Lackawanna;
- Creating the position of Energy Officer for the Erie County government to help the County reduce costs on electricity, natural gas, and other fuels while operating more efficiently and in an environmentally-conscious manner;
- Allocating $2 million for brownfield redevelopment in Erie County, in addition to providing new funding for workforce development initiatives and summits;
- Providing additional operating funds for the Buffalo Convention Center and Visit Buffalo-Niagara, new funding for the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission-WNED to support cultural tourism and development, and $500,000 in new capital funds for a needs analysis of the Convention Center;
- Providing $5 million for work at Erie Community College to bolster College science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”) programs and educate future leaders in the vital science disciplines, and
- Designating nearly $68,000 in new funding for cultural organizations following a rigorous and competitive funding process that strengthens the County’s overall commitment to cultural and arts agencies.
Poloncarz added, “The Initiatives for a Smart Economy provide a template for Erie County’s success across multiple sectors, recognizing the importance of partnerships to achieve goals and carefully shepherding resources in pursuit of those goals. Wisely targeted investments and prudent use of available funds will allow Erie County to take a leadership role in developing these Initiatives, creating the base for a more prosperous, engaged, efficient and active County in the future.”
The Budget also underscores the administration’s commitment to funding the “People’s Mandates,” those programs that residents expect and demand and that encompass a wide spectrum of County services. Included among these are a reinvestment in Buffalo & Erie County Public libraries that adds $415,867 in new operating funding and $250,000 in new capital funding for the purchase of a new bookmobile; $2 million in 2014 funding, pursuant to the $1 million in 2013 funding, for the rehabilitation of greenhouses at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens; over $36 million for operating and infrastructure investments on highways, roads and bridges throughout Erie County; continuation of the County’s commitment through Operation Prime Time to neighborhood-centered not-for-profit youth organizations for summer youth programming; increases in spending on infrastructure repairs and renovations at Erie County Parks; and the creation of three new positions in the Erie County Department of Health to administer vital cancer screening programs for under- and uninsured County residents.
“The People’s Mandates are a loud and clear call from the public to provide services that maintain and enhance the quality of life here in Erie County,” Poloncarz continued. “These are often services that the private sector either can’t or won’t provide, but that are critical nonetheless to public health, safety, or well-being. Residents rely on these programs for support and assistance, and I commend the Legislature for appreciating how valuable these services are to the people of Erie County and for working with me to properly fund these services.”