Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has unveiled his 2014 budget plan.
The plan holds the line on the property tax rate, which remains at $5.03 per thousand of assessed value.
“The 2014 Proposed Budget addresses the significant needs of our community at a time when Erie County faces tremendous opportunities along with fiscal burdens,” said Poloncarz. “This document underscores my administration’s commitment to providing the services that taxpayers demand, reaffirms our promise to invest in and enhance the programs I identified as necessary ‘Initiatives for a Smart Economy,’ and highlights our ability to hold the line on property taxes despite increases in State-mandated expenses and declines in revenue. Careful stewardship of taxpayer dollars and close scrutiny of spending has resulted in a Proposed Budget that recognizes and copes with our economic realities while also making targeted investments building toward a stronger future for Erie County.”
Highlights of the proposed budget include:
· Providing additional operating funds for the Buffalo Convention Center and Visit Buffalo-Niagara, new funding for the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission-WNED to support cultural tourism and development, and $500,000 in new capital funds for a needs analysis of the Convention Center;
· Designating nearly $68,000 in new funding for cultural organizations following a rigorous and competitive funding process that strengthens the County’s overall commitment to cultural and arts agencies;
· Allocating $2 million for brownfield redevelopment in Erie County, in addition to providing new funding for workforce development initiatives and summits;
· Providing $100,000 in new funding for the creation of a new Greater Toronto area economic development office to assist Canadian and foreign companies to locate businesses and industries in Erie County, such as the Welded Tube investment in Lackawanna;
· Providing $5 million for work at Erie Community College to bolster College science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”) programs and educate future leaders in the vital science disciplines, and
· Creating the position of Energy Officer for the Erie County government to help the County reduce costs on electricity, natural gas, and other fuels while operating more efficiently and in an environmentally-conscious manner.
The proposed budget still needs to be approved by the County Legislature, which will hold public hearings next month.