County Lawmakers Address $45 Million Surplus

Debate over whether to spend any of the money

Legislator April Baskin on July 25, 2018. (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Erie County lawmakers have a $45 Million surplus to discuss Thursday. There are two very different sides as to how to handle that money.

About $31 Million of the surplus has already been committed to ECMC. County Executive Mark Poloncarz wants to use at least $5 Million for previously committed funding for the expansion of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Legislature Minority Leader Joe Lorigo told WBEN that he sees plenty of other options.

"In a best case scenario, we should find a way to give that money back to the taxpayers," said Lorigo. "I know from having discussions with my colleagues from across the aisle, they are not in favor of doing that."

Lorigo said he'd like to see funding go toward infrastructure, initiatives to combat poverty, and body cams for the sheriff's office.

Lorigo says there's one thing the lawmakers should consider. "They're not in favor of putting it into the fund balance. I've tried to get that accomplished, but there is not a will on the other side or the county executive's ofice," said Lorigo. "They're looking to spend the money."

Meanwhile, Majority Leader April Baskin said she has no objection to spending some of that money on the Albright Knox Art Gallery, which recenlty received $52 million.

"I'm not opposed to the match that's been presented. I'm very passionate about poverty initiatives and body cams. I've been very vocal about that," said Baskin.

"We need to make sure everyone has a chance to have a say, to have lots of conversations with the minority leader and the administration," said Baskin. "We need to deliberate and come up with a plan for the best way to use it."

Baskin said as long as she sees issues like public safety and poverty addressed with the surplus, she'll be happy. 

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