11/21/13: Poloncarz, Officials Highlight Proposed 2014 EC Budget

Modified: January 23, 2015 3:09pm

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Builds on “Initiatives for a Smart Economy”, Reinforces Economic Development & Tourism   

Provides Funding for Energy Efficiency Initiative, Libraries, Arts & Cultural Attractions, Parks

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Erie County Industrial Development Agency Chairman Chris Johnston, Chestnut Ridge Park Conservancy member Jack Bertsch, National Grid Regional Director Dennis Elsenbeck, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski, President/CEO of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society, Inc. David Swarts, and Albright-Knox Art Gallery Director Dr. Janne Siren at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery to detail highlights of the County Executive’s  Proposed 2014 Erie County Budget (the “Budget”). 

In addition to holding the line on taxes while maintaining quality of life programs & services demanded by the public, the Budget invests in economic development, energy efficiency, tourism, cultural attractions, and other initiatives to build a stronger future for Erie County.

“My 2014 Proposed Budget recognizes Erie County faces fiscal challenges, but also seizes upon opportunities to collaborate with other agencies to develop and enhance the many sectors of our local economy our economic sector, infrastructure, and tourism & cultural venues, among other areas. As I noted in my ‘Initiatives for a Smart Economy’ address, building meaningful partnerships across sectors, leveraging county resources, and focusing on investments in the public good leads to a comprehensive developmental approach that works for everyone in our community,” said Poloncarz. “The Budget prudently invests millions in roads and bridges, increases funding for ‘The People’s Mandates’ such as libraries and parks, and provides funding for Erie County to strengthen its core agricultural sector.  It also holds the line on taxes while exploring cost-saving energy efficiencies across the county and strengthening our business-friendly profile and presence in Canada. With this Budget we are working closely with partners in the public and private sector to build on past successes and lay the foundation for future prosperity.”

Erie County Industrial Development Agency Chairman Chris Johnston said, “Our region has recently experienced several job creating wins from Canadian-based companies looking to leverage the U.S. marketplace and achieve ‘Made in the USA’ status.  These wins bring new jobs and investment by leveraging our geographic proximity to our largest trading partner, Canada.  But now is not the time to rest; the County Executive’s Greater Toronto Area strategy and budget request will further enhance our region’s capacity to harness opportunities creating new jobs and investments in collaboration with our partners.”

Chestnut Ridge Conservancy member Jack Bertsch said, “The maintenance of Chestnut Ridge Park and its infrastructure has suffered decades of neglect due to the lack of sufficient funding and, it seems, a lack of caring. The Chestnut Ridge Conservancy was established a little over four years ago with its mission to support the restoration, preservation and enjoyment of this Park Jewel owned by the Taxpayer’s of Erie County. One needs only to enter part way into the Park to see significant positive progress – more I would suggest, in the last four years than the last forty years.  This year alone has seen the reconstruction of long-neglected tennis courts, construction of many new shelters, and new landscaping and lighting around the Casino as a few recent examples. Continued support of the County Executive, the County Legislature, the County Parks Commissioner and County Park Employees is critical, necessary and expected, to continue to bring Chestnut Ridge Park up to its full potential for all Erie County Residents now and for future generations. It is starting to look like we care.”

Speaking on the creation of an Energy Officer position for county government to help reduce costs on electricity and other fuels, National Grid Regional Director Dennis Elsenbeck said, "The energy industry is changing rapidly, creating tremendous opportunity for any customer organization that is actively engaged in managing its energy future.  From new energy technologies and sources to the latest in energy efficiency and financing, there are so many ways that an energy manager can help an organization save money, reduce its impact on the environment and take full advantage of all the energy marketplace has to offer."

Director of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Mary Jean Jakubowski said, “On behalf of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System I would like to express our gratitude to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz for increasing the operating assistance by $415,867 to libraries in his 2014 proposed budget through funds generated by growth in the equalized full value property tax base. The funds will be used to strengthen our programs and services, as well as reduce the use of library fund balance.   I am personally thrilled the Poloncarz plan includes funding for reestablishing bookmobile services. The new vehicle will be flexible in nature and potentially be equipped with a modest collection of materials, wireless technology, etc.  It is expected to serve those areas of Erie County without a library, as well as provide other additional outreach programs.”

President/CEO of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society, Inc. David Swarts said, “The Botanical Gardens is an essential educational resource that creates impactful programming, exhibits and events for our community.  It is a gardening and horticulture mecca for tourists and provides a unique experience for over 100,000 visitors each year.  Funding cultural organizations like the Botanical Gardens is critical to preserve the type of community that we hope our children will grow up in.”

Albright-Knox Art Gallery Director Dr. Janne Siren said, “We are delighted to partner with County Executive Poloncarz and Erie County to develop and grow his public art initiative.  We recognize that great communities deserve great art, and we are committed to enriching our community and our lives through a ground-breaking partnership between Erie County and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.”

The Erie County legislature will be holding a public hearing on the Proposed 2014 Budget on Monday, November 25 at 5:00PM at Old County Hall, 92 Franklin St., Buffalo.

For more information on the Proposed 2014 Erie County Budget, visit   http://www2.erie.gov/