October 2014 Column - 2015 Erie County budget to be released mid-month

The 2015 Erie County budget will be released by the county executive later this month. Based on meetings and hearings with the administration, I believe that the Legislature’s message of “no tax increase” has been received and we will not see a tax increase in the proposed budget.

When the county executive attempted to raise taxes his first year with a Democratic majority, the two sides of the Legislature joined together to cut $8 million from the budget and stop an increase. Now, as chairman of the Legislature, with a Republican majority, I am confident we have the support needed to control spending.

Once the Legislature receives the county executive’s proposed budget, we will review it to ensure that your tax dollars are being spent as efficiently as possible and that funding is being prioritized. Public safety always has and always will come first.

I recently took a road tour of my district as many projects were finally getting underway after years of deterioration. Genesee Road in ConcordAbbott Road in Orchard Park and Waverly in Springville were among the projects I visited. I also drove along Boston State Road in Boston, which was paved just days before the tour. Each year you drive on these roads, and each year you pay your taxes, you deserve to have those taxes going toward decent, maintained roadways. I will once again be monitoring the administration’s plans for funding roadwork to ensure we continue to repair and maintain our infrastructure. As always, residents will also be able to weigh in on the proposed budget. The date of the public hearing will be announced soon, giving anyone who is interested a chance to comment on the budget. You can also write to the clerk of the Legislature at 92 Franklin St., Fourth Floor, Buffalo, NY 14202 to have your comments considered by the Legislature. After considering all options and proposing any changes deemed necessary by the Legislature, the budget will be adopted in December.

In another matter, the Legislature will also be considering pay raises for elected officials. In Erie County we have 15 elected officials whose salaries are being reviewed: 11 legislators, as well as a county executive, sheriff, clerk and comptroller. The district attorney’s salary is not reviewed by the Citizens Salary Review Commission.

I’m opposed to salary increases for elected county officials. However, I believe that the taxpayers — our bosses — deserve to have a say on the matter. The Legislature will be hosting a public forum to allow for public input. Once those forums are finalized, the time, date and location will be announced. After public input has been gathered, the Legislature will vote on the commission’s recommendations, which I except will be to maintain the salaries at their current level.

If you have any questions about any of these programs or another county matter, please contact me at 858-8500 or john.mills@erie.gov.