Another year has passed and without much fanfare so did the 2017 Erie County Budget. In early December, the Legislature approved a $1.7 billion budget that for the third consecutive year reduced the county tax rate. This is an achievement to be proud of, but not one to linger on. The goal is always to try and return as much of your tax dollars to you as possible. Some years are easier than others. County employee costs continue to rise, our sales tax revenue continues to fall and the federal government and New York state refuses to remove costly mandates that make up over ninety-percent of our budget.