The Legislature was quite busy throughout the month of July. We held our last sessions and committee meetings before the summer recess, in addition to the mid-budget hearings. With more than half the year now behind us, we look back of what transpired, while keeping focus on obstacles that may lie ahead.
We have learned that as predicted, collected sales tax is short of the County Executive’s forecasted amount. Erie County will continue to monitor those figures and we may need to make adjustments if the county doesn’t meet our targeted revenue total for the year.
During my tenure as a Legislator I have seen that each budget has its ups and downs. Fortunately, this year many of the county’s departments are “up” and reported they are on track to operate within their budget for 2013. Some departments are operating below budget. Overall, the county currently has a surplus, very good news as we go into the second half of the year.
I anticipate that we’ll see much of the same trends with sales tax and spending from now through Dec. 31. If necessary, modifications can be made to ensure a balanced budget. As a member of the Legislature’s Finance and Management Committee, I want to thank the county’s directors and commissioners for providing the Legislature with a thorough analysis of their department’s current status. This information is extremely important as we are only a few months away from the County Executive releasing his proposed 2014 budget.
Last year, the County Executive requested an $8 million tax increase as part of his $1.4 billion budget. Through a bipartisan effort, six members of the Legislature blocked that tax increase, presenting taxpayers with a budget that held the line on taxes. I am a firm believer that government needs to lead by example. Many of our residents continue to struggle in this tough economy and many families are still affected by unemployment, rising costs and other factors. It would have been inappropriate to ask taxpayers for more.
With an approved, balanced budget, the County was still able to open the beaches, the libraries’ are offering their summer programs and critical services are still being provided. The county was not devastated by saving residents from a tax increase.
The county’s departments are ready to serve you. If you have any questions about a department, please contact my office at 858-8850 or email email@example.com. I am also inviting residents to attend the District Outreach Meetings scheduled with the Departments of Senior and Social Services to learn more about how they can assist you. Presentations will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, at Concord Town Hall, in the auditorium, 86 Franklin St., Springville, and at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21 at Orchard Park Town Hall, in the basement, S-4295 S. Buffalo St., Orchard Park. Representatives will be available to answer questions. If you are interested in attending, please contact my office to make a reservation.