Modified: April 9, 2018 4:11pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by the Erie County Office of Budget and Management today to strongly disagree with a proposal put forward by Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns that would fund eleven new positions and expanded hours in the Clerk’s office by raiding the County Clerk Trust account. This account, ostensibly overseen by Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, was created in the early 1990’s to generate interest revenue for the county through investments of idle cash prior to that cash being needed to issue payments through monthly reconciliation settlements. The Trust Fund balance has routinely been invested to generate earnings for the county rather than remaining idle in non-interest bearing bank accounts. The cost of the Clerk’s proposal, estimated at $338,000 in 2018 alone, is not accounted for in the county budget and would incur considerable additional annual expense going forward.
“For a number of reasons, as the county’s Chief Budget Officer I do not concur with this proposal and neither does the Erie County Office of Budget and Management. The Clerk Trust account exists solely for the purpose of creating new revenue for Erie County through investment of idle funds, certainly not for the purpose of creating new patronage jobs for the Clerk’s office. This scheme would subvert that account and also eliminate a revenue-producing stream for the residents of Erie County. No Clerk or Comptroller in Erie County history has so willingly and brazenly proposed spending restricted trust funds to fund new operating expenditures and it is discouraging to see it happening now,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “In addition, it is worrisome that the Clerk has not yet been on the job for even four months and is already eager to increase his staff significantly, regardless of the long-term costs this will impose on county residents. If the clerk wishes to significantly increase his staff he should submit such submission as part of the annual budget process, starting for the 2019 budget year.”
Poloncarz concluded, “As a former Erie County Comptroller myself I understand the benefit of investing idle funds, the importance of doing so, and also what credit ratings agencies will think when they see this restricted trust account raided for an inappropriate purpose. They, like us, will see this idea for what it is: an improper scheme that misappropriates the funds of the people of New York State and Erie County.”
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