The 2018 budget proposed by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz cuts the county's property tax rate by one penny to $4.94 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The plan includes $69 million for capital projects, including $36 million for roads and bridges. Poloncarz says there are only two other rural counties in northern New York with a lower tax rate.
"Just in Western New York alone, most of the other counties are at least $8 per $1,000, $10 per $1,000 [and] $12 per $1,000," Poloncarz said "We are roughly half of that. It tells you that when you get Erie County's services, you're getting a great deal for your money."
Poloncarz is also proposing restoring 12 janitor positions in the county's Rath Building, which has had a well-documented bed bug problem. He says cuts by the previous Chris Collins administration left only one full time janitor for the entire 16-story building.
"The bed bug issue is something that, unfortunately, is often brought in by the people who walk into this building. We're addressing what we feel are complaints from our employees on cleanliness issues," he said.
Poloncarz says the plan assumes over half of the Community College chargeback fee paid by municipalities, which he says will save taxpayers across the county $3.6 million. It increases funding Erie Community College by $250,000, the public library system by $478,000 and features a modest 1.2 percent increased for arts and cultural organizations. There is also $500,000 in capital funding for the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center and $500,000 for anti-poverty initiatives.
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw says he is in favor of the new hires, but he blasted the overall spending plan saying Poloncarz "is raiding" a total of $10 million from the County's fund balance. And "is stealing" $17 million from Erie County Medical Center to balance the budget. Mychajliw says ECMC "gave" the County the money as part deal with Poloncarz that allowed ECMC to finance construction of a new emergency department at a lower interest rate available through the County.