October’s chill and the expectation of colder weather ahead are once again signaling the change of season in Erie County, and with that seasonal change comes a “flurry” of activity in Erie County. Good budgetary and financial news, AARP’s recognition of Erie County as being an “Age-Friendly Community”, and an October that’s full of activities provide much to talk about this month.
I met with County legislators recently to discuss major facets of the proposed 2015 Erie County Budget I will be presenting on October 15, a lean and fiscally-responsible plan that contains no county property tax increase. The final proposed budget is still being assembled, but this was a good opportunity to meet about what is in the $1.4 billion plan while underscoring my administration’s commitment to providing the infrastructure, programs, and services residents demand and I am working to protect.
Along with the good news of no increase in county property taxes, residents will be pleased to know that Erie County recently received a three-step credit rating upgrade from Standard & Poor’s, the highest we have ever received from them and one that brings the County’s credit rating to its highest level since July 2004, prior to the “red-green” fiscal crisis. I was elected Comptroller in 2005 to clean up that mess, and I am pleased to say today as County Executive that our credit, which had fallen to almost junk-bond status, has now not only regained but surpassed its former grade. This is further affirmation that Erie County is headed in the right direction.
Another agency that agrees about Erie County heading in the right direction is AARP, who recently designated ours as an “Age-Friendly Community” and a leader in addressing the needs of an aging population by creating more age-friendly spaces for all people. Erie County is now a member of AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities, sharing best practices with other communities and committed to assessing its age-friendliness in areas such as transportation, housing and outdoor spaces. Some of the improvements the initiative focuses on are things such as curb-cuts for both wheelchairs and baby strollers and longer crosswalk times for both the elderly and children, as well as larger and more visible traffic signs, broader road striping, bus stops with benches, easily accessible libraries and parks, and more accessible apartments and shared housing. By partnering with AARP, Erie County will continue to create a more user-friendly County to live, work, play, and retire in.
October is also Disability Awareness Month, and the Erie County Office for the Disabled has prepared a month-long calendar of activities and events that raise awareness on issues affecting the disabled. Check it out and you’ll find resources for individuals and families living with disabilities, career & employment events, a speakers’ series, workshops, conferences and planning events, and social events as well. Find out more at their website, http://www2.erie.gov/ecod.