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Metro Creative Connection

Poloncarz presents 2022 Erie County proposed budget


Mon, Oct 4th 2021 04:05 pm

Proposal said to lower property tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value from $4.42 for ’21 to $4.33 in ’22

√ Allocates $24 million for ongoing COVID-19 response; includes new investments in law enforcement, small business revitalization, new workforce development initiative

√ $76.8 million capital works program proposed dedicates $44.8 million to road and bridge work

√ $34 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding allocated for construction of ErieNet Open Access Network; $31 million invested in critical sewer system upgrades

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Monday presented his proposed 2022 Erie County budget and accompanying four-year financial plan to the Erie County Legislature.

His team said, “It is a robust and visionary document that provides a stark contrast to the budget proposed just a year ago that prepared for the worst possible outcomes as the county endured the COVID-19 pandemic and planned next steps. That budget envisioned no federal aid, a prolonged economic recovery, resurgent COVID-19, and massive NYS aid cuts. Since then, Erie County has turned the corner and momentum is once again building. Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are easily accessible to all Americans at no cost. The economic recovery has been one of the fastest on record. President Biden and Democrats in Congress have delivered $350 billion in direct relief to state and local governments like Erie County, and the resurgence in Erie County’s economy is undeniable.”

Poloncarz said, “Twelve months ago, I was forced to present a budget with significant cuts across the board while facing tremendous uncertainty regarding the future of our region and country. Thankfully, the tide has turned and those significant cuts have been reversed.

“Today, I am pleased to propose a budget that protects taxpayers, provides the services and programs that residents expect, and invests in projects that will improve people’s lives for decades to come. My proposed 2022 budget provides relief to homeowners by lowering the property tax rate as we have done in past years, this time to its lowest point in 60 years. Since taking office, my administration has now reduced the property tax rate by a total of $0.70 per thousand dollars of assessed value, a 14% reduction. We are investing in law enforcement operations to remain in compliance with new bail and discovery reform legislation, we are expanding services and connectivity for seniors in Erie County, and we are proposing over $76 million in capital projects. This proposed budget invests in our people, our community and our infrastructure and will create a better, more equitable and healthier Erie County.”

In addition to providing unprecedented property tax relief, which stays under the New York state tax cap, the proposed budget also reduces (for the fourth time) the eligible amount of community college chargebacks, this year by $4.4 million. The budget also uses conservative estimates of 2% in potential 2022 sales tax growth in both the budget and the four-year plan while avoiding any use of the county’s fund balance in 2022 and throughout the 2023-25 budgets.

Other highlights:

√ Investments in Law Enforcement: The proposed budget includes 14 new general fund positions and another $100,000 in equipment to meet the district attorney’s growing discovery requirements due to the demands of state law; it also honors requests from Central Police Services to add forensic crime lab staff and to enhance staffing at E-911, and restores the key position of chief of internal affairs to the sheriff’s office.

√ Providing Essential Services & the Expanding the People’s Mandates: The proposed budget proposes an augmentation of the Department of Senior Services programming options, with an expanded food service and wellness program and new recreation activities including an interconnected TV network between senior centers across the county featuring karaoke, live music, and classes. Additional augmented supports for seniors include adult day care, home care, transportation, and home energy support.

√ Storefront Revitalization: The proposed budget includes a $10 million allocation for a county-funded version and expansion of the popular Community Block Development Grant storefront revitalization program. This would provide grants to small businesses across Erie County, not just in the CDBG Consortium area, to revitalize and improve neighborhood commercial areas, support small businesses, eliminate blight and code violations, and enhance the livability of surrounding neighborhoods. Unlike the current CBDG program, this funding would be available to small business in every community in Erie County.

√ LiveWell Erie Workforce Development Action Fund: The proposed budget would invest $10 million in antipoverty initiatives coordinated with community partners and designed to identify and implement innovative approaches to lift individuals and families out of poverty. The Workforce Development Action Fund would also enable Erie County to develop a benefit cliff mobility fund to support individuals as they move along a career path and ultimately away from public assistance.

√ ErieNet: Federal aid received via the American Rescue Plan will provide $34 million in capital funding for the construction of the ErieNet Open Access Network, which will provide high capacity, high-speed fiber internet access to key anchor institutions countywide including Erie County itself.

“This proposed budget is a conservative and responsible plan that invests wisely in Erie County, funding programs, services and initiatives that improve our quality of life and make our community a stronger and healthier place,” Poloncarz added. “But we aren’t doing it alone. Thanks to President Biden and congressional Democrats, Erie County has tremendous support as we build back better with our RENEW Plan and we are taking the steps necessary to not only improve our community today but far into the future.”

The Erie County Legislature must vote on the proposed budget by Dec. 7.

The 2022 Proposed Erie County Budget can be read here.

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