May 2014 Column - Legislature’s midyear budget hearings critical for monitoring

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Believe it or not, in just a few weeks we will have reached the halfway point of 2014. Perhaps the year seems longer for some due to the long, harsh winter, but hopefully we have seen the end of freezing temperatures for at least a few months, which will allow crews to get necessary roadwork done. Please be mindful of crew members as you drive through construction zones so that the hardworking men and women can return home safely at the end of their shift.

The Erie County Legislature’s Finance and Management Committee marks the midpoint of the year by holding hearings with each of the departments and elected offices to discuss their budget expenditures thus far and to air any concerns for next year’s budget. As chairman of the committee, I am looking forward to having these discussions to ensure that money in the $1.4 billion county budget is being spent as efficiently as possible. I’m also always looking to identify any opportunities for savings in the 2015 budget.

As majority leader of the new Legislature majority, I am focused on working with my colleagues to reduce spending and approve a responsible budget. The new majority caucus stands firm in its opposition to raising your county taxes, confident that we can deliver quality services without asking residents to pay more. New York State residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, and Erie County needs to lead by example by reversing the trend and not raise taxes each year.

On May 7, I welcomed my first son, Charles David Lorigo, into this world, and now more than ever, I am committed to creating a better future for the next generation. I want Erie County to be a place where my son and all our young people can get a solid education, find a great job and build a life. I believe this starts with creating a better economic climate for all residents and businesses, which starts with controlling taxes.

Taxes were the focus of many conversations I had with business owners during my first “25 Businesses in 25 Days” tour. The tour allowed me the opportunity to meet with business owners and their employees to not only learn about their businesses, but to hear directly from them as to how government can best assist them. Time and time again I heard they felt forgotten. I was disappointed by this disconnect and am committed to staying connected with residents and businesses in my district. Soon I will be launching my second business tour, meeting with businesses in each municipality I represent. Local small businesses are the foundation of our community, and for Erie County to prosper, these businesses must thrive.

I look forward to this year’s tour, and if your business would like to be a part of the tour, please contact me at 858-8922 or to arrange a meeting.

In closing, I want to thank our veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. Many of our communities go above and beyond on Memorial Day to ensure that we are properly honoring the servicemen and women we lost. Town websites or local papers have the details concerning memorial services or parades that are planned.