December 2014 Column - Legislature delivers tax cut in 2015 budget

I am happy to report that the Erie County Legislature’s budget amendments have resulted in a tax rate decrease for next year. The Legislature worked together to reduce spending without impacting services. As a result, we were able to lower taxes in 2015. The County Executive’s proposed budget only held the line on taxes but that didn’t go far enough for taxpayers.


In addition, the Legislature realigned funding to allocate money to service groups that are dedicated to helping residents in need. In all, I am very pleased with the adopted budget, I believe we have created a sound budget that prioritizes critical services, provides funding to city and rural community organizations, and respects taxpayers.


Among the cuts made were to the Legislature’s budget. We voted to reduce our own budget by nearly $100,000. The reduction was achieved by eliminating a position, slashing the office supply budget line and reducing its rental costs, among other cuts. When the new Republican-aligned majority took control of the Legislature in 2014, one of my first acts as Chairman was requesting an audit of the Legislature by the Comptroller’s Office. Thanks to the findings of that audit, we were able to identify savings and take corrective action. As we near the end of this year we have a better understanding of our budget needs under the new majority and were able to reduce next year’s budget accordingly. I am pleased we were able to identify these cuts and lead by example.


When I reviewed the County Executive’s proposed budget there were reductions made that I did not agree with. For example, Graycliff Estates, Cornell Cooperative Extension and youth programs throughout Erie County saw reductions. My colleagues and I worked together to restore funding to the 2014 level for many organizations. Funding was also provided for the Food Bank of WNY and the Buffalo City Mission to assist them as they see an increase in requests for help. We supported these important agencies and organizations while still reducing taxes.


Our priority remained focused on protecting funding to critical services, this included Emergency Services, the Sheriff’s Office and road fund. We heard from many residents who urged the Legislature to protect services while insisting that funding be allocated efficiently. In any budget process a balance must be struck.


I want to thank my colleagues in the Legislature, the administration and his staff, and all the departments for working together on the 2015 budget.


Don’t forget that Santa Land returns to Chestnut Ridge Park on Saturday, Dec. 13 and Sunday, Dec. 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. The event includes hay rides, visit with Santa, face painting, marshmallow roasting and more.


If you have any questions about a county matter, please contact me at 858-8850 or email