Modified: October 14, 2022 11:26am
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today presented his proposed 2023 Erie County Budget (‘the Budget”) and accompanying Four-Year Financial Plan to the Erie County Legislature. It is a robust and strategically-designed document that lowers the property tax rate per thousand of assessed value by 40-cents when compared to last year, allowing for Erie County to be fiscally conservative while still leading the region’s resurgence and at the same time keeping an eye on a potential economic downturn in the future because of a possible national recession.
The balanced and fiscally responsible proposal lowers Erie County’s property tax rate per thousand of assessed value from $4.32 in 2022 to $3.92 in 2023, the lowest Erie County property tax rate in modern history and the lowest county property tax rate in all of Western New York.
“Today I am pleased to propose a budget that protects taxpayers, provides the important services and programs that our residents expect, and invests in projects that will improve people’s lives now and for decades to come,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Budgets are a statement of values. This budget sends a clear message that we continue to value fiscal responsibility and respect for taxpayers, safe communities, a vibrant arts and cultural community, investment in our shared infrastructure and parks, and adapting to the needs of a critical moment in time. This proposed budget provides relief to homeowners by once again lowering the property tax rate, this time to its lowest point in decades. We are investing in law enforcement, our people, our community and our infrastructure, which in turn will help continue us along the path of a stronger and safer Erie County.”
The major investments in law enforcement personnel for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office include 57 new jobs that will provide needed help in the divisions of Jail Management, Police Services and Correctional Health. In addition, 14 employees will be transferred to help with the creation of what will be known as the “Professional Standards Division.”
The proposed budget calls for spending $14.2 million to cover the salaries and benefits of the 57 new positions (47 full-time jobs and 10 part-time positions) in the Sheriff’s Office as part of a concentrated effort to reduce overtime as well as enhance staffing at the Erie County Holding Center and Alden Correctional Facility and for road patrol duties throughout the county.
In total, the budget includes funding for 30 new full-time corrections officers and jail deputies, 10 new guard positions at the Holding Center, six new sergeants and one new lieutenant. The commitment to enhancing law enforcement that assists with community-wide public safety measures includes nine new positions for police services and road patrol (six deputies, two supervisors, one assistant) and one nurse educator position for the Correctional Health Division of the department.
“We are creating these new positions to help reduce the frequent scheduling of overtime shifts for many of the employees who currently work at the Holding Center and our Correctional Facility,” said Poloncarz. “We listened to the requests from Sheriff’s Office administrators and their unionized employees and believe this significant level of funding will meet the needs of the hard-working men and women who help to keep our community safe.”
“I commend the County Executive for his response to our request for much needed positions throughout the Erie County Sheriff’s Office,” said Erie County Sheriff John C. Garcia. “Cooperation between county officials is necessary and vital during these challenging times.”
The 2023 spending plan also earmarks $2.3 million for pay upgrades in the District Attorney’s Office as part of Poloncarz’s commitment to making major investments in public safety, with 32 positions being upgraded in an effort to retain current employees and also help attract future staffers when positions become vacant.
“Thank you to County Executive Poloncarz for his thoughtful consideration regarding my office’s request. I look forward to further discussions with the County Legislature to ensure that my office can fulfill its mission to keeping our community safe,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn.
The proposed budget all meets specific details and the spirit of the Fair Labor Standards Act by converting certain managerial confidential positions from hourly to salaried employees, meaning those jobs will no longer provide eligibility for cash overtime or compensatory time compensation. In total, 93 commissioners, deputy commissioners, other top appointed administrators and all independently elected officials would have their managerial confidential pay scale placed in parity with the higher pay scale of the Civil Service Employees Association.
The commitment by the administration to regularly invest in what is regularly referred to by the County Executive as “The People’s Mandates” continues in the proposed 2023 spending plan. Following his promise to safeguard the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System by ensuring funding levels are uninterrupted thanks to a specific portion of Erie County’s property tax levy, Poloncarz has increased library funding for a total of over $1.8 million for next year to be used for ongoing programs and services as well as new opportunities for library patrons throughout the county.
"Next year’s budget prioritizes public access to resources, programs, and services to help us serve our communities,” said Library Director John Spears. “We are extremely grateful to County Executive Mark Poloncarz and the Erie County Legislature for their support of libraries, especially during these challenging times.”
In addition to providing unprecedented property tax relief which stays under the New York State Tax Cap, the proposed budget uses conservative estimates of 2% in potential 2023 sales tax growth in both the Budget and the Four-Year Plan while avoiding any use of the county’s fund balance next ear and throughout the 2024-2027 budgets.
“This proposed budget is a conservative and responsible plan Erie County residents can be proud of because we are wisely investing taxpayer dollars, continuing to fund the programs, services and initiatives that improve and enhance our quality of life and help to make our community as a whole a desirable place to live. We are investing in our people and our infrastructure while at the same time protecting taxpayers with the presentation of a fiscally responsible spending plan,” Poloncarz added.
The Erie County Legislature is scheduled to convene for its annual budget meeting to consider the 2023 Proposed Erie County Budget on Thursday, December 1.
The 2023 Proposed Erie County Budget can be read here.