Comptroller faults adopted county budget as 'missed opportunity'

Dec 12, 2018

The new county 2019 budget has been signed by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. But the county's comptroller is blasting the spending plan.

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw told reporters after the budget was signed that property owners should be getting a tax cut.
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw says the adopted budget, passed by an 8-to-3 vote, is going to increase taxes for most property owners. But things could have been different, Mychajliw says, because the minority caucus proposed a spending plan that would have cut the budget by about $10 million.
    
"I believe the politicians of Erie County missed a great opportunity to actually cut taxes for struggling families. The total budget, in 2019, is up $48 million. So, there is no doubt a lot of that revenue should have been delivered back to county residents in the form of a tax cut," Mychajliw said.   

County Executive Poloncarz says the adopted budget contains a 2.2% tax rate decrease, the largest in over a decade. Poloncarz says 2018 is ending strong because earlier in the year sales tax collections were up due to higher gasoline prices, but pump prices have been falling.

(L-R) County Legislature Majority Leader April Baskin, Legislature Chair Peter Savage, Erie County Exec. Mark Poloncarz and Finance Committee Chair Barbara Miller-Williams after a budget signing ceremony, Tuesday.
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

"That's why, I think, it's very important that we were able to enter into a compromise budget that did not drastically cut the tax levy as some proposed. Because, I believe, if they had gone into effect we would be looking at a potential budget hole next year. And with sales tax questionable and the economy questionable we want to know that we have a guaranteed source of revenue coming in. That's what we know we will have as a result of this compromise budget as it pertains to the property tax," Poloncarz said.  

Along with tax rate decrease, Poloncarz says the adopted budget includes over $30 million for roads and bridges and provides the services, programs and cultural funding that residents value.