GUEST COLUMN: Strong county budget outlook, ADA anniversary highlight July

Modified: July 9, 2018 3:42pm

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Summer is off to a hot start in Erie County, and I experienced that firsthand recently as I joined thousands of residents and visitors to celebrate Independence Day festivities across the county. Despite temperatures in the nineties that day, a celebratory feeling was in the air and I would like to thank the many people who came out to organize and participate in the parades in Cheektowaga, Lancaster, Newstead and Orchard Park, as well as in East Aurora on July 3. I was honored to take part in all of these great patriotic observances and I look forward to the next time we’ll get together!

July also brought some welcome economic news for the county, and while others are taking time off this month I am happy to report that our Office of Budget and Management recently released some very positive budgetary news. Their latest report indicated strong growth of 4.93% in sales tax through April 2018 and also showed an accompanying positive variance of over $9.5 million for May year-to-date. Each year, we work to provide realistic estimates of sales tax growth as an important part of forming the county budget, but an increase in sales tax receipts of nearly 5% is above our conservative estimates and underscores my administration’s prudent budgeting and scrutiny of county finances. To add to that, Erie County Medicaid costs were down through May, largely due to greater than expected 2018 savings from provisions of the Affordable Healthcare Act, so county residents saw a savings of over $2 million there as part of the over $9.5 million positive budgetary variance. Good budgeting is a balancing act that requires foresight and solid, realistic estimates year-to-year; as the county office for verifiable, unbiased financial information, the Office of Budget and Management works closely with my administration each year to build responsible annual county budgets.

July celebrations continue throughout the month as the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) approaches on July 26. Signed into law in 1990, the ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including in the workplace, educational settings, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The Erie County Office for People with Disabilities is your resource for information, services, and programs for individuals with disabilities, and can be reached at 858-6215 if you have any questions about the ADA or Erie County disability issues. We are also helping to support the upcoming Disability Pride Parade and Festival, a free family event taking place from Saturday July 28 through Monday July 30. Along with the WNY Independent Living family of agencies, our Office for People with Disabilities will be taking part in the Parade and Festival on July 28th, adaptive water sports at Canalside on July 29th, and the ADA Buffalo Bisons game on July 30th. Make plans to join the fun and celebrate the accomplishments of people with disabilities!