Modified: October 12, 2018 12:45pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined today by Director of the Erie County Division of Budget and Management Robert Keating to present his Fiscal Year 2019 Proposed Erie County Budget (“Proposed Budget”), which maintains and strengthens Erie County’s quality-of-life and public health services and programs, funds the repair of roads and technological infrastructure, and reaffirms the administration’s commitment to the “People’s Mandates” while remaining under the NYS property tax cap. A significant proposed reduction in the 2019 property tax rate of 2%, or nine cents per thousand dollars of assessed value, highlights the fiscal strength of Erie County and the Poloncarz administration’s prudent and responsible budgeting process.
“The 2019 Proposed Budget is a common sense plan that addresses the needs of citizens and promotes a stronger community for all. This is the seventh budget I have presented as County Executive, and the effects of my administration’s wise budget decisions and economic development initiatives over the past six years are apparent in the resurgence we are seeing now in Erie County. This year we are proposing the largest tax rate cut county taxpayers have seen in more than a decade, reducing the rate by nine cents to $4.86. Additionally, we will remain under the NYS-imposed tax cap while still providing the services residents demand,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “This Proposed Budget also continues our commitment to improving our infrastructure, with $72 million in capital project work including over $30 million for county roads and bridges accompanied by $2.6 million for technology infrastructure. It also funds important programs to protect public health and safety along with other enhanced investments in our parks, SUNY Erie, and elsewhere. My administration’s farsighted and conservative budgeting approach in past years continues in this Proposed Budget with constant monitoring of our short-term, long-term and strategic goals for all county tax dollars.”
The over $32 million in capital project road work in the 2019 Proposed Budget is accompanied by another $2 million to purchase new heavy equipment such as dump trucks, plows and front-end loaders. The budget also prioritizes funding $1 million towards the continuing redevelopment of the Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna; increasing funding by over 3 per cent to support the tourism promotion initiatives of Visit Buffalo Niagara, the Convention Center Management Corporation, and the Buffalo-Niagara Film Commission; and continuing community development funding for Erie County Soil and Water Conservation, the Cooperative Extension, and the Jericho Road Community Health Center.
The Poloncarz administration’s enduring commitment to the “People’s Mandates” is apparent in the 2019 Proposed Budget, with increases in cultural funding (for the seventh year in a row) by more than 2 per cent over 2018. The Budget also proposes an increase in operational funding for the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library of $488,450; over the last seven years, the Poloncarz administration has increased library funding by over $3 million.
“The ‘People’s Mandates’ are the programs and services that are important to taxpayers and that add to the quality of life here in Erie County. This 2019 Proposed Budget not only provides funding for these mandates but expands it in some cases,” said Poloncarz. “Including these ‘People’s Mandates’ in the Budget and augmenting them wherever possible reaffirms my administration’s commitment to building a community that citizens want to live, work, and play in.”
Other public health and safety initiatives identified in the budget includes special funding of $250,000 to help combat the six cancer clusters identified in the West Cheektowaga – East Buffalo area; a further extension of community outreach efforts by establishing a Mobile Human Services Van to be used by the Departments of Social Services, Senior Services, Health, Probation, and Veterans; a 20 per cent increase in funding for Operation Prime Time summer youth programming; and providing $80,000 to a Crime Stoppers Initiative, in conjunction with Central Police Services, as reward money for information leading to a conviction in a crime where a firearm was used.
Poloncarz added, “In 2019 we will continue to wisely invest in programs, services and initiatives that strengthen and enhance our community. Public health, safety and well-being are of paramount importance and we are working to ensure that Erie County residents are provided with the resources they need in these areas now and in the future.”
Elsewhere, the Budget provides $250,000 for the Monumental Women’s project to recognize trailblazing women of Erie County; first-time funding of $182,500 to support the build out of a Buffalo Presidential Center at the Downtown Library; first-time funding of $200,000 towards the restoration of the Roycroft Campus Copper Shop; $100,000 for the creation of the African-American Veterans Monument; and $100,000 toward the implementation of the Parks Master Plan recommendations.
The 2019 Proposed Budget is now before the Erie County legislature, who must vote on it by December 10, 2018.
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