GOP Legislators Vow To Kill Tax Hike In Poloncarz Budget Plan
(WBEN) While fellow Democrats have yet to weigh in formally on Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz's proposed budget plan, the property tax hike it contains is getting a thumbs down from the minority Republicans in the County Legislature .
The county's comptroller - a Democrat like Poloncarz - also says he has "concerns" about the proposed 3.4 percent property tax hike unveiled Monday.
Poloncarz proposes 2013 spending plan that includes a property tax increase estimated to raise your tax bill $18 per $100,000 of assessed value.
" We are opposed to the direction this proposed budget takes this county. People are struggling in this economy; we should be working to provide them financial relief, not asking them for more money,' said Legislature Minority Leader John Mills in a prepared statement. (below)
Poloncarz says the plan-- which can be changed and ultimately adopted by the Erie County Legislature-- battles against rising state mandates and a drop in property assessments after several successfully challanges from large scale property owners and developers.
The plan increases county spending approx. $30 million and increases funding for parks, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library system and some cultural agencies. (See details, and earlier coverage above left)
What elected officials are saying about the budget plan:
In response to the County Executive’s proposed 2013 budget,the Erie County Legislature’s Minority Caucus Leader John J. Mills has released the following statement
on behalf of the Caucus, Legislators Lynne Dixon (I-Hamburg) , Kevin Hardwick (R-Tonawanda) , Joseph Lorigo (R- West Seneca) and Edward Rath (R-Amherst) .
“Less than a year ago Erie County had a $100 million surplus, had paid off over $120 million in old debt, and reduced the workforce by 15 percent. We were reforming programs and services, not cutting them, and we were paying for our expenses with cash. Our year over year spending increases had been reduced to practically zero.
Just hours ago, I received the County Executive’s budget. It is a step backwards for Erie County. With County Executive Poloncarz’s proposal, we are increasing the amount we borrow next year, putting off paying for current obligations, and we are being asked to raise your taxes.
My colleagues and I want to be clear. We are opposed to the direction this proposed budget takes this county. People are struggling in this economy; we should be working to provide them financial relief, not asking them for more money. Erie County families already face some of the highest property taxes in the country, and from this point forward our number priority is removing the projected 3.4 percent tax increase from the proposed 2013 budget.”
-Minority Leader John Mills (R-Orchard Park)
Erie County Comptroller David J. Shenk (D-Boston) released the following statement:
“After an initial and brief review, I want to highlight my concerns with the County Executive’s proposed budget.
First, given current economic conditions, I am concerned about the property tax increase. When is the last time that most taxpayers received a 3.4 % raise? Although the County Executive reports that this translates to an increase of $18 a year on a home assessed at $100,000, Erie County’s hard-working families have been watching every penny, and we must be just as vigilant.
In addition, Erie County’s future Medicaid related payment obligations to the Erie County Medical Center Corporation are unclear. The budget message fails to account for the $29.0 million above budget projected to be paid in fiscal year 2012. Furthermore, the administration indicates significant payments will be made in the 2013 and 2014 budgets/fiscal years, but provides no estimated amounts above the $16.2 fixed subsidy established by the Collins administration. This is a significant omission, considering that the County’s payments in each of the last four years were significantly higher. Although the administration has indicated that it has drafted an agreement for “credits” with ECMCC, taxpayers will still be responsible for these payments over the next 10-14 years.
With respect to the Appropriated Fund Balance, I reiterate my concerns expressed earlier this year on the use of $5.4 million in fund balance and the need for a comprehensive fund balance policy. This continues the trend of the last two years, as 2011 ended with a reduction of $9.2 million in total fund balance and the 2012 Adopted Budget was balanced with the use of $7.4 million of fund balance.
The County Executive indicated that he relied on input from the public to guide the “scalpel” that he used to determine the appropriations and cuts to the 2013 budget. Now that the budget has been released to the Legislature, the public will have another opportunity to weigh in on their priorities and the costs they are willing to bear by contacting their County Legislator. My office will complete a thorough analysis of the 2013 County budget to the Legislature by October 31, 2012. It may be necessary to replace the scalpel with a laser in order to avoid a tax increase.”
Here's The statement Poloncarz sent to supporters of his campaign, after making the formal budget announcement Monday
Unfortunately, 2013 will be the County’s most challenging budget year since the “Red-Green” fiscal crisis due to a “perfect storm” of more than $30 million of new mandated expenses and significant multi-million dollar declines in anticipated revenue.
However, when I was elected last November, I heard the message loud and clear: you demanded certain quality of life programs and services to be funded. And, as such, I have presented a Proposed Budget that will maintain and, in some cases, enhance these services in a responsible way, while acknowledging the hard fiscal realities facing us.
Specifically, the Budget:
Makes good on a promise to safeguard our Public Library System from politics and ensure stable funding levels by increasing the System’s tax levy beyond the pre-Collins-cut level to $22.172 million;
Provides $5.570 million in cultural funding ($148,000 increase over 2012 Legislature restorations) through a new, revitalized process based on need and merit;
Maintains 2012 funding levels for two of the County’s most popular programs—rodent control and the summer youth education and anti-crime program, Operation PrimeTime;
Maintains vital public safety services like the Sheriff’s road patrol; and
Fully invests in our aging infrastructure by (1) increasing the pay-as-you-go Road Fund by $700,000 and (2) increasing the Capital Budget to $39 million to address our deteriorating roads, bridges and parks.
In order to close a more than $30 million budget gap created by the “perfect storm” of increased mandate costs and reduced revenues without sacrificing these quality of life programs, we implemented an “all of the above” approach that calls for (1) an across the board reduction in departmental spending that includes cutting of 63 positions (10 occupied), (2) the use of $5.4 million in Fund Balance, and (3) a modest property tax increase for the first time since my predecessor proposed a larger tax increase in 2009.
The Proposed Budget increases the property tax rate per thousand from $5.03 to $5.21—a $0.18 increase. For the average Erie County homeowner with a house assessed at $100,000, this means their County property taxes will increase $18 a year, or $1.50 per month, which is still among the lowest tax rates in New York State.
Think about it, for less than $1.50 per month we can ensure a responsible budget that meets the financial challenges presented to us while continuing to provide the quality of life programs that you have demanded from your County government.
You elected me County Executive to make not just tough decisions but smart ones as it pertains to the future of our community. This budget not only meets but exceeds that standard and I hope you will join me in supporting this budget.
GOP Legislators Vow To Kill Tax Hike In Poloncarz Budget Plan
Are libraries, cultural agencies and the other things that got increased funding, worth a property tax hike?
Well there you have it.
More proof that New York voters are stuck on stupid.
More proof that New York voters are stuck on stupid? maybe yes, but what about OUR vote does not count in NYS.As J Stossel and many others have claimed its all fraud!
No more Taxes!
noone I know elected YOU Mr. P.
Poloncarz finally gets it
You are 100% correct Mr. Poloncarz...your constituents will have no choice but to spend less at our restaurants or stores to pay for your tax hike.
You have taken our local restaurants for granted by deciding that the "$20 dinner" is no big deal FOR them.