GUEST COLUMN: 2020 Budget Brings More Good Fiscal News for Erie County

Modified: December 9, 2019 12:33pm

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I am pleased to report Erie County the Erie County Legislature recently approved my Proposed 2020 Budget with just a few minor amendments. As a result, the county’s property tax rate will be cut once again, this time by thirteen cents, while we continue to invest in infrastructure, roads, parks, libraries, and more.

Funding for important public health initiatives such as lead poisoning prevention and drug treatment to combat the opioid epidemic were preserved in the budget as were funds for continuing economic development at the former Bethlehem Steel site and anti-poverty initiatives to invest in our community and residents. We will also be investing in the design and business plan for ErieNET, a modern countywide open-access broadband fiber service network that will bring high-speed internet service to all areas of Erie County, and in the development of the new Erie County Agribusiness Park now taking shape at the old Angola airport.

Importantly, the fiscally responsible $1.8 billion budget stays under the state-imposed tax cap and continues my administration’s record of producing stable, responsible budgets that benefit the entire county. I thank Chairwoman April Baskin and the Legislature Majority for sharing my commitment to our residents and for working with their partners across the aisle to produce a satisfactory result.

The soon-to-be-adopted Budget follows on the heels of other good financial news Erie County received in November, as we got positive reports from two separate bond ratings agencies that reaffirm our strengthening financial position. Early last month Moody’s Investor’s Service raised the county’s credit rating to A1, up from A2, and noted a “stable” outlook for county finances. This is the highest the county’s rating has reached with Moody’s since 1976. More good news came from the Kroll bond rating agency, who late in November assigned Erie County a long-term rating of AA- and a “stable” outlook for our bonds. Having these affirmative ratings from independent financial entities such as Moody’s and Kroll underscores the health of the county’s finances and help determine the interest rate and capacity at which Erie County can borrow money; the higher the credit rating, the lower the interest rate will be for future borrowings.

This month I would like to extend my thanks to all the Erie County voters who came out to vote on Election Day and in early voting and granted me the opportunity to serve another term as your County Executive. As always, I take this duty very seriously and my administration will continue to work hard for all county residents. In the spirit of the holidays I would also like to extend seasonal greetings to all county residents and best wishes for a safe, joyous and peaceful holiday season. Our county is a rich, vibrant, diverse and welcoming community because of you and the many ways that you give back to make Erie County a better place for everyone.