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July 2017 Column - Albany gamesmanship going way too far as $279 million for Erie County was put at risk


Additional summer funding to assist these organizations that serve children and the community
The Swormville Fire Company has offered years of dedication to serving and protecting the Amherst, Clarence and surrounding communities
Ed Rath wrapped up a three-week series of volunteering for Junior Achievement of Western New York

Last week, Erie County Legislator Ed Rath visited the Amherst Senior Center to pass out flowers and deliver a proclamation in celebration of Mother’s Day.

Mill and overlay work on Maple Road from Hopkins Road to Transit Road in the Town of Amherst

oneilj - Posted on 16 July 2017

As Albany got closer and closer to the end of its 2017 session without approving extremely important homerule requests from 53 counties, local discussions turned from, “they really wouldn’t end session without approval;” to “I can’t believe they are going to actually end session without approval.” What had always been a routine vote was turned into a bargaining chip. Critical sales tax extenders became attached to another unrelated matter - all to leverage votes. Unfortunately, at stake for Erie County was $279 million of annual revenue. 

Sales tax is a main source of revenue for not only Erie County, but local municipalities, which receive a significant portion of the $279 million. This is how we pay for the all unfunded mandates handed down by New York State. For downstate Assembly members to play partisan games with this revenue, after forcing so much on counties, is evidence that Albany has gone way too far – once again. If the sales tax extension had been successfully blocked, 53 county budgets would have been devastated. 

To put this into perspective, Erie County would have had to double its property taxes and likely cut services to make up the lost revenue. The situation would have been dire, and all for what? Political posturing? Residents and businesses can’t afford to have their county property tax doubled. While political games happen in Albany, hardworking residents in Erie County were threatened. This isn’t how our state leaders should be operating.  

The “battle” between upstate and downstate has always been extremely concerning, knowing that downstate officials do not have our best interests in mind. Their concerns are always focused on New York City, and in this case its mayoral control over the school system.  In the end we are all forced to pay for excessive and expense programs and services based on this out of touch agenda.

Fortunately, the homerule requests were approved at a special session last week. Albany should have never pushed NY counties to the brink of fiscal disaster. I sure hope they learned their lesson.  I want to thank my district’s state representatives, Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, Assemblyman Ray Walter and Assemblyman Mike Norris, for fighting on behalf of the Erie County during this turmoil.

As a reminder, the County’s Hazardous Waste Collection Event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, August 5 at the ECC North Campus (enter from Wehrle Drive) in Williamsville. Accepted items include, pesticides, fertilizers, pool and household chemicals/cleaners; oil-based paints, spray cans; paint thinner, stripper and solvents; batteries (lead acid & rechargeable); oil, gasoline, kerosene, antifreeze; and mercury (thermometers, thermostats, metal). For additional information, please visit www.erie.gov/waste.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact my office at 858-8676 or email edward.rath@erie.gov