Erie County Legislature approves budget, other laws

Public Health Protection Act, Social Host Law, also passed legislature

Mike Baggerman
December 06, 2018 - 2:21 pm

Erie County Legislature meets. December 6, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - A showdown is expected at the Erie County Legislature when it comes to the 2019 Erie County Budget.

The budget, which was initially presented by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz in October, allocates the county $1.7 billion. A compromised budget was passed by an 8-3 vote.

"My concern is the fact that last week we had an amendment package approved that cut taxes by county residents for the first time in a decade," Minority leader Joe Lorigo told WBEN ahead of Thursday's vote. "Then, in a backroom midnight deal at the last minute, the county executive worked with certain members to eliminate that tax decrease and add more jobs to the budget and more spending without making real substantial cuts. I think it's an irresponsible package."

Republicans would have been able to pass their version of the amended budget due to Legislator Tom Loughran's vote in favor of the GOP. However, republican Legislator Kevin Hardwick agreed with the democrats version of the county budget, saying that a City of Tonawanda home worth $100,000 would have paid a difference of $10.16. However, despite the democratic budget featuring the slightly higher number, he voted on it for one reason.

"Roads," Hardwick said while saying that this budget will not produce a new version of the infamous red-green budget. "We know the county roads are bad and they need help. Every year we say we don't have the resources and can't spend the money or whatever. This second package, the one that cost (an extra $10 more), has an agreement from the county executive...to move the transfer tax in January...it should provide the resources and there's also a commitment to spend that money (on roads)."

Hardwick said there's no excuse not to spend money on roads.

Lorigo said he was disappointed in Hardwick's actions and said this budget is an example of how Erie County reached the red-green crisis by adding jobs and spending while not including tax cuts.

"This is a tax rate cut," Lorigo said after the budget vote. "Not every Erie County resident will see an actual cut in their Erie County taxes. The package that was approved last week, every single resident in Erie County would have seen a decrease on their Erie County tax bill."

Democratic chairman Peter Savage defended the budget, saying it increased funding for roads in Erie County and maintained the mandate on supporting cultural organizations plus individual projects in districts. Savage also said that this budget does not feature an increase in spending, something Lorigo disagreed on.

Other issues voted on were the Public Health Protection Act of 2018, which passed by a unanimous vote though not without efforts by republicans to table it for futher discussion, and an amended Social Host Law, which also passed unanimously.

 

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