In the County Executive’s 2014 State of the County address, I was hoping to gain a more incisive look into the actual state of the county. However, two issues that I believe are critical to understanding the true state of the county, the budget and infrastructure, were quickly passed over.
When the final books are closed on 2013, the county executive said a surplus is expected. This is good news. It is far better news than the county executive predicted after we adopted the budget that eliminated his proposed $8.6 million tax increase. He threatened to initiate a hiring freeze, and cut highways, parks and culturals. As we saw, the county executive did not have to make good on his threats. In fact, he touted increased spending in parks for improvements and allocated additional money for culturals.
The county executive claimed the county “needed a small property tax increase” that he proposed. Clearly, he was wrong. We did not need to raise your taxes to operate government. The same services were provided. According to the county executive’s speech, many were improved. He chastised the Legislators for not doing what was “right.” I strongly disagree. Raising taxes is not right. Cutting spending and improving efficiency is. I hope the county executive now understands what his approach to budgeting should be.
As stated in his speech, $23 million has been committed to repair roads and bridges throughout Erie County. Among the projects mentioned was Goodrich Road in Clarence. This was a project I pushed hard for and the county executive is giving it the attention it needs. However, I believe we need more emphasis on infrastructure and should be committing additional resources to complete more road work this year.
I was pleased to see the county executive devote much of his speech to addressing the issues in Child Protective Services. He highlighted some local reform initiatives that will hopefully provide supervisors and case workers with the necessary tools they need to fully investigate each case. I join the county executive in his push to see changes at the state level that will help case workers to better do their job and protect children in danger.
As chairman of the Economic Development Committee and a member of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency Board, I though the county executive’s discussion on IDAs was slightly off-base. We agree that it is important that businesses that receive tax breaks provide economic development and jobs to our community. However, unlike the county executive, I see value in maintaining local IDAs, which are valuable to our community and have offered great successes. IDAs across the board need to continue to evaluate their mission and ensure each decision made improves our economy.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my office at 858-8676 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.