Mark Poloncarz

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Property owners in Erie County may be paying higher taxes in the coming year. The 2013 budget proposed by County Executive Mark Poloncarz boosts spending by 2.1 percent and increases taxes by 3.4 percent.

Poloncarz told reporters Monday the county is facing a perfect storm of increased costs and declining revenues.

WBFO News file photo

The Erie County Executive's proposed 2012 budget will look to cut jobs and increase taxes.

The Buffalo News reports that County Executive Mark Poloncarz will release a spending plan today that will boost property taxes by 3.4 percent.

Overall spending will jump 2.1 percent, while laying off ten workers and eliminating 53 vacant positions.

The County Legislature must approve the budget plan.

The Poloncarz plan will add $300,000 to the depleted county library budget, an amount that is considerably lower than the level sought by library supporters.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

For Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, the Democratic National Convention offers more than discussions in party politics.

The convention presents a chance to meet face-to-face with "state officials about what the state can contribute to the reconstruction of Ralph Wilson Stadium," Poloncarz said in a live interview on WBFO and AM970.

It's believed the Buffalo Bills are seeking over $200 million in improvements for their home stadium, a price tag the cash-strapped county is unlikely to afford on its own.

"We're still talking."

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

County Executive Mark Poloncarz has named Erie County Deputy Comptroller Michael Szukala to lead a new county anti-fraud task force.

As a Medicaid inspector, Szukala and a three member team will investigate potential fraud perpetrated by pharmacists and other professionals connected with the aid program. The effort will be funded by the state Department of Health and the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General.

Szukala begins his new post on Tuesday.

Interviews will be held to fill his former seat.
 

The largest union representing Erie County government workers has voted down a new contract proposal with the county.

The deal included 11 percent raises over the next five years, as well as employee contributions toward health insurance and reductions in paid leave.

Joan Bender, president of the Civil Service Employees Association Local 815, reports the vote was 2,144 to 706, an approximately three-to-one margin.

The union has been working under terms of a contract which expired in 2006. The new proposal would have covered the years 2007 through 2016.

County Executive Poloncarz is heating up the fight with the County Control Board over a planned short-term borrowing next month.

The county executive is under pressure to continue borrowing through the control board rather than doing it directly through Comptroller David Shenk.

That was the practice before county finances fell apart a decade ago and the control board wound up with a better fiscal rating and did the borrowing.

Board members and Republican county legislators want that to continue, saying it will save money.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

The county and county government's largest union have reached a tentative deal on a new contract.

Members of the Civil Services Employees Association, Local 815, were given their first look at the proposal on Friday. The deal would gradually raise wages over five years while also making employees responsible for an increasingly larger portion of their health care expenses among other concessions.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz would not reveal details of the proposal until union members have a chance to vote on it.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

County Executive Mark Poloncarz has selected law firm Hiscock & Barclay as county bond counsel, overseeing county financing transactions.

After making that choice, Poloncarz learned that the firm and one of its lawyers had contributed a combined $25,000 to his war chest. Poloncarz has returned those donations, describing the action as a means of allaying any concerns of impropriety.

Poloncarz has accepted donations from other law firms that do have business interests with the county.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced that he has reached a tentative labor agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association. 

The CSEA is the county’s largest labor union. The union has been without a contract since it expired in 2006.  

Both sides agreed not to disclose terms of the deal until members learn its details. 

Poloncarz thanked CSEA leadership for bargaining in good faith.  

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Members of the Erie County Legislature's Minority Caucus are pushing a plan they claim will save millions of dollars. 

County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued a mid-year budget warning Monday, saying the county faces more than $50 million in unanticipated costs.  GOP lawmakers are calling on Poloncarz to borrow and refinance through the county Control Board. 

Legislator Ed Rath says that will save taxpayers nearly $3 million.  

Bills lease talks moving slowly

Jul 18, 2012

Lease negotiations between Erie County and the Buffalo Bills aren't moving along as planned.

According to the Buffalo News, County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the parties are behind his timeline, including the hope that a memorandum of understanding would have been accomplished by the start of training camp on July 26th.

Though the Bills are asking for over $200 million in improvements at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Poloncarz believes a new lease will be signed by the end of the year.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

In issuing a mid-year budget warning, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz indicated that everything will need to be on the table as the county faces more than $50-million in unanticipated costs.

"We are facing siginfican difficulties," said Poloncarz.

Poloncarz is concerned about property assessments and a potential  drop in sales tax revenues.  But will taxpayers see a future property tax hike...

"So I'm leaving everything on the table.  I'm not saying there will be a tax increase, but  I think everything has to be left on the table," said Poloncarz.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Erie County Executive issued a mid-year budget warning Monday morning.   Mark Poloncarz says his administration hase discovered more than $50 million in unanticipated costs.

Most notably, Poloncarz described the tens of millions of dollars of unbudgeted healthcare payments that must be made to the Erie County Medical Center Corporation. 

Former county executive Chris Collins previously reached an agreement with ECMC, claiming the county was out of the hospital business. Poloncarz said that is not true.

Bills block NFL's new blackout policy

Jul 13, 2012

The Buffalo Bills will buck a new league trend by continuing to mandate that Ralph Wilson Stadium be sold out before allowing the region to watch broadcasts of home games.

The NFL is now allowing its franchises to follow an eased blackout policy requiring at least 85 percent of stadium seats to be sold to lift the blackout. But the Bills say the change doesn't make financial sense for the small-market team.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has announced the creation of a Medicaid Anti-Fraud Task Force. 

Poloncarz says Medicaid continues to represent the single largest cost to the county -- $211 million already this year.  He says the new task force will root out "provider-level" waste, fraud, and abuse from doctors, dentists, transportation services and pharmacists.

Poloncarz says the task force will go after "the types of entities that overbill the system." He cited a Monroe County pharmacist that fraudulently billed for prescriptions that were never filled.

The Poloncarz Administration is taking a long look at the future direction of ECC as an outgrowth of the fight over a new $30 million building.

Originally, that building was to be on the North Campus where its aging buildings are prompting  students to attend Niagara County Community College. An ensuing dispute emerged as downtown proponents argued the new building should go on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to train future health care workers.

Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe says the new building is vital to the future of ECC.

WBFO News file photo /

Lease negotiations between the Buffalo Bills and the County of Erie appear to making headway.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz believes that the most significant issues could be ironed out be the end of July and the deal could be signed by the end of the year.

Stadium renovations, estimated at more than $200 million, are among the issues to be addressed.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

Lease negotiations between Erie County and the Buffalo Bills regarding the use of Ralph Wilson Stadium are progressing.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz anticipates that the framework for a deal can be in place by the end of next month. One aspect of the talks is the issue of stadium renovations that will carry a $200 million price tag. The current deal expires in July.

A memorandum of understanding needs to be reached between the parties before an actual lease can be hammered out.
 

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is facing questions regarding a fundraiser he held last week in Albany.

The Albany region is a rich resource for statewide politicians, but reasons for the local official to tap into that audience remain unanswered. The News reports that a spokesperson for Poloncarz has also refused to divulge who attended and how much money was raised. Those questions, though, will be answered during the mandatory reporting period in July.

Chris Caya/WBFO

More than 50 billboards are up across Erie County encouraging people to join their local volunteer fire department.  It's part of a statewide recruitment drive in conjunction with "National Volunteer Week," which includes an open house at many departments this weekend. 

Poloncarz releases four-year plan for Erie County

Apr 10, 2012
WBFO News file photo

A new four-year financial plan for Erie County has been released by County Executive Mark Poloncarz. The former county comptroller says the document is designed to more accurately reflect expenses and revenues from the previous proposals by former County Executive Chris Collins.

While Collins called for numerous job cuts, Poloncarz holds the line on county employment. The proposal calls for a seven percent increase in employment expenses by 2015, but also projects the reduction in the work force of about 50 jobs through attrition.

WBFO News file photo

Critics and supporters offer various grades regarding the performance of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz after 100 days in office.

Some, like Republican legislators Kevin Hardwick and Lynne Dixon, believe it's too early to give any grade besides an "incomplete."

Democratic supporters are offering high marks to Poloncarz while the County Executive has given himself an "A-minus or a B-plus."

Listen to more from WBFO/AM970's Mark Leitner.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says, starting tomorrow, the county's Rodent Control Program will be restored to full strength.  Poloncarz pledged its reinstatement, if elected. 

"Tomorrow is a bad day to be a rat," Poloncarz joked.

Speaking to reporters at the Rath Building, the County Executive noted the previous administration cut the Rodent Control Program to the bone.  That, according to Poloncarz, proved to be a serious mistake.

WBFO file photo

A local law legislating cyberbullying is now on the books in Erie County.  County Executive Mark Poloncarz signed the measure today after it gained passage in the legislature last month. 

The law makes cyberbullying against a minor or a student a misdemeanor crime punishable by as long as a year in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000. 

But in signing the law, Poloncarz also expressed "serious doubts" about whether or not it is enforceable in its current form. 

Creative commons

Plans to build a new Eric Community College (ECC) building at its North Campus in Amherst have drawn steady criticism over the past year from opponents who argue the project would perpetuate suburban sprawl.

A prominent pollster in New York says last week's election victory by Erie County Executive-elect Mark Poloncarz validated an early October poll that found the Democrat gaining ground in his race against incumbent Republican Chris Collins.

When the Siena Research Institute released its first poll on the county executive's race, the Collins campaign was harshly critical.  Campaign spokesman Stefan Mychajliw characterized the poll as "flawed," that it was just another media-sponsored poll that gets it wrong every time.  Except that this time, Siena was right.

Buffalo Mayor Brown on Mark Poloncarz

Nov 10, 2011

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is talking about his late decision to endorse Erie County Executive-Elect Mark Poloncarz.  Speaking to WBFO Thursday, he acknowledged his warm working relationship with the current county executive, Chris Collins, and responded to the question why he'd choose his bitter election rival.

Erie County Executive's Race: Incumbent Chris Collins

Nov 4, 2011

WBFO invited the candidates for Erie County Executgive into our studio for one-on-one interviews with reporter Michael Mroziak.  Here online is his interview with the Republican incumbent, Chris Collins, in its entirety.

Erie County Executive's Race: Candidate Mark Poloncarz

Nov 3, 2011

WBFO invited the Republican incumbent and Democratic challenger into our studios to be interviewed in advance of next week's elections.  First, WBFO's Michael Mroziak spoke with the challenger, Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz.  Portions of the interview were aired on 88.7FM.  Here, we provide the interview in its entirety.

On Friday, Mroziak's interview with the incumbent, Chris Collins, will be aired in part on 88.7 FM and in its entirety on WBFO.org.

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