Modified: December 1, 2020 10:26am
Legislator John Mills and members of the Erie County Legislature’s Minority Caucus unveiled their proposal for the County’s 2021 Budget, which includes the total elimination of the proposed increase to the property tax levy. If the plan is approved, homeowners and business owners will see no increase in their annual property tax bill and several new fees will be eliminated.
In addition, the budget proposal seeks to create two separate small business relief grant funds to help struggling local businesses. The first fund appropriates $3 million in grants to businesses that faced a second round of closures and restrictions as a result of the state imposing colorized micro-clusters on the region. The program will be specifically designed to provide eligible small businesses with grants up to $5,000.
The second program is a $2 million proposal that would create a fund to help restaurants expand and enhance their outdoor seating options. By adding or improving outdoor dining spaces, Legislators are hoping to help restaurants expand already restricted seating capacities to help them serve more customers. The plan will also have a long term impact in funding permanent improvements that will help Western New York businesses embrace the outdoors during colder months for years to come.
“We can’t tell restaurants you have to cut your seating capacity in half or by 75% and not help them out with options to continue serving customers,” said Legislator John Mills. “It’s also cold here several months a year. This is a no brainer. We help them create heated outdoor space that will temporarily increase their seating capacity under the restrictions, but will also have an added long term benefit to help them recover. I’m proud to support this, and would love to see this program become permanent.”
If passed, the Minority Caucus’ budget amendment package will reduce the County property tax levy by more than $7.5 million and create $5 million in newly established small business relief grants. It also keeps secure a $20 million commitment to continuing the fight against Covid-19 in 2021.
The budget amendment package also supports increasing funding to the Erie County Library system by $508,183 while continuing to fund cultural organizations throughout the County.
The Minority Caucus will formally propose their amendments to the 2021 Erie County Budget in the Legislature’s Finance, Management and Budget Committee Meeting, which will consider it at 11am today.