Poloncarz: Federal Budget Damaging to Erie County

County Executive: “Some of these cuts are cruel, heartless”

Mike Baggerman
March 20, 2017 - 8:52 pm

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - President Trump’s unveiling of his budget blueprint last week showed a massive increase in federal defense spending and an increase in veterans affairs, but every other area saw little-to-no increase or a decrease.

The proposal doesn’t sit well with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz who said some of the cuts are “cruel” and “heartless”, especially for it’s potential effects on Erie County.

“There are many programs across the board that most people are unaware of that will be directly impacted if this budget goes through,” Poloncarz said Monday inside his office downtown. “People have said ‘well, if you cut and give it to military spending, that’s a good thing.’ We’ve already spent more than at least the top-five other nations in the world combined on military spending. Perhaps they should look at efficiencies in the military rather than going out there and cutting all these important programs just to spend money for the military.”

Poloncarz was joined Monday by various department heads including the Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security, Environment and Planning, Health, Mental Health, Senior Services, and Social Services.

One of the most notable programs that would be cut according to Poloncarz is from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as HEAP. One component of the program is emergency benefits such as the loss of electric or natural gas heat. Should someone have a heat-related emergency, HEAP would be able to receive a cash-assistance grant. 

HEAP is a $2.5 million program and would be cut entirely. This means a loss of jobs for 87 employees including 28 full-time employees. It also means 225,000 individuals in Erie County. 

“The cuts are affecting programs across the whole county,” Poloncarz explained. “The rural transit service is one of the most popular programs in our rural communities. It’s the one thing town officials always ask for…because it allows our seniors and low-income individuals to be able to traverse areas if they don’t have a vehicle. That would be 100 percent cut.”

One area which will benefit under the president’s budget proposal is battling the opioid epidemic prevention. President Trump’s proposed budget calls for a $500 million increase nationwide.

 

Report Summary:

Department of Emergency Services & Homeland Security

Homeland Security Program: Reduced by 25%, or  $19,237,250. Erie County could see a reduction in federal homeland security assistance of $351,870

Port Grants: Erie County could see a $12,500 reduction while the NFTA would see a $38,325 cut in funding.

FEMA Grants: Would receive a 25% cut. Erie County is still in the process of receiving assistance and auditing for the 2014 November snowstorm. 

 

Department of Environment and Planning

Community Development Block Grant & Home Investment Partnership: $3,725,879 would be cut for both programs. Would likely be deleted from the 2018 Erie County Budget. Projects include rural transportation service for seniors and low income households, acquisition of senior vans for municipalities, housing rehab programs for low-income homeowners, facade improvement programs for village centers, initiatives to fund smart growth planning proposals, replacing aging sidewalks to make them compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act, and demolition and/or restoration of blighted propoerties in village centers.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Complete elimination of all funding. The EPA has invested over $22 million in this project.

Sustainable Business Roundtable: Would lose $130,196 in grant funding, or 45% of its grants.

 

Department of Health

Immunization Action Plan Grant: All federal funds would be cut. Received $153,000 for two full-time employees and one part-time employee.

Child Lead Hazard Grant: Receives $244,349 annually. 42% of that comes from the federal government. Under blueprint, all federal funds would be cut. 

Beach Water Testing: $11,250 received from the EPA annually. Blueprint would cut all federal funding.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness/Defense to Bio-Terrorism Grant: $590,270 received annually and funding includes six full-time employees and two part-time employees. DOH could not determine if this grant is continued though it anticipated a cut if federal funds are block granted.

STD Outreach Program: Receives $225,000. Undetermined result, though Erie County anticipates a cut.

 

Department of Mental Health

Homelessness Programs: Unable to quantify true impact on local services. 

Opioid Epidemic Prevention: $500 million increase nationwide. Unknown number to Erie County.

 

Department of Senior Services

Senior Aides and Senior Community Service Employment Grants: Blueprint eliminates funding. Erie County is spending over $1 million combined during their respective fiscal years.

Retired Senior Volunteer Program: Blueprint would eliminate all funding. Received $73,891 of federal grant dollars for upcoming fiscal year. 800 volunteers logged more than 118,000 hours for Erie County. 

Meals on Wheels-Congregate Dining Programs: Blueprint calls for 17.9% reduction in Health & Human Services funding. Does not give detail at this time on specific impact locally. 

NY Connects Expansion and Enhancement Grant: Unclear of impact because of introduction of ACHA. 

 

Department of Social Services

Home Energy Assistance Program: DSS receives $2.5 million for program and benefits 225,000 individuals. All federal funds would be cut. 

Community Development Block Grants: Funds many of DSS’ partners. Eliminating CDBG funding would “greatly impair the ability of the (DSS) mission”

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