$2.5 million general fund surplus expected following annual budget balancing amendments
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced the County Division of Budget and Management is projecting Erie County will end fiscal year 2014 with a modest surplus of approximately $2.5 million following specific expenditure amendments to address immediate areas of need. The amendments, subject to approval by the Erie County Legislature, allow unbudgeted positive variances from 2014 to be re-appropriated for expenses in 2015, including more than $2.3 million for road salt, asphalt and labor expense in the Department of Public Works highways division to carry out 2015 road work and winter plowing.
"Prudent budgeting and aggressive scrutiny of expenses are essential to conducting government in a way that is lean, efficient and responsive to residents' needs. We are doing that with Erie County's $1.4 billion budget, and for the third year in a row we anticipate closing out the fiscal year with a small surplus," Poloncarz said. "As careful stewards of county resources, it is incumbent on us to maintain tight spending and vacancy controls while also balancing the needs of the community. A $2.5-million surplus is extremely small in relation to the overall size of the county budget, but it highlights my administration's accurate, realistic budgeting and oversight of Erie County's finances."
Other re-appropriations from 2014 to 2015 would allocate $9,500 for new equipment in the comptroller's office, provide an additional $92,863 in funding for the domestic violence program in the office of the Erie County district attorney, and add more than $300,000 in funds for new books and equipment at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. Elsewhere, $20,175 would be used for document verification services and office equipment in the county clerk registrar division and auto bureau division; $30,300 would be added for vehicle repairs in the sheriff division; and allocations of over $146,000 in the department of social services and $12,500 in the youth services division would be used for various community agencies and child protection initiatives.
"These positive variances can be put to immediate use, and will strengthen areas and programs that directly impact county functions and residents' quality of life," Poloncarz said. "I urge the Legislature to move quickly in authorizing these re-appropriations so we can add momentum to our road and infrastructure projects, our investments in our libraries, and other programs that residents depend on."
The Legislature previously authorized other 2014 designations and 2015 re-appropriations, including $5.8 million for highway projects; $748,000 for new personnel in 2015, including new highway employees to conduct road work and plow, as well as new parks employees; and $53,200 for the re-creation of the conditional release program.
Additionally, the amendments will allow Erie County to carry forward available 2014 balances and utilize unanticipated 2014 revenue in order to cover other expected 2015 costs in numerous areas, including $850,000 for the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens capital project reconstructing greenhouses two and three, $213,000 for the procurement of new marked road patrol vehicles in the Office of Sheriff, $200,000 for parks capital improvements, and $54,350 for a Ralph Wilson Stadium capital project, among other projects. By utilizing 2014 unanticipated positive variances to fund these capital projects, the county will save thousands of dollars in interest costs that otherwise would have been incurred had these capital projects been bonded instead.
The amendment process is a standard procedure conducted annually by the Erie County Division of Budget and Management in cooperation with the Erie County comptroller's office as a precursor to sending financial statements to Drescher & Malecki, Erie County's independent auditors.
For more information on the Erie County Division of Budget and Management, visit http://www2.erie.gov/exec/index.php?q=budget-office.