Election-year county budget proposal includes property tax decrease, more for roads & bridges

Oct 2, 2019

Erie County's property tax rate will drop in the budget proposed Tuesday by county executive Mark Poloncarz, who is running for re-election against county legislator Lynne Dixon.

Poloncarz said the spending plan is good for taxpayers.

"The 2020 budget is a commonsense plan to address the needs of the citizens and promote a stronger community for all," he said. "It does reduce the tax rate to $4.72 per $1,000 from $4.84. It's another large tax rate cut and, as was shown, will actually reduce the taxes of homeowners in our community. It stays under the New York State tax cap."

Poloncarz showed reporters several homes around the county and how much the budget would save on their property tax bill, which he says is a relatively small percentage of residential tax bills, after school and local government taxes.

His budget also reflects several million dollars in new state mandates for what Poloncarz called good programs, but Albany is sending very little money to pay for the around 70 additional workers needed for them. For example, a new lead testing program.

"It's a good thing. Once again, it's a very good thing. We want our children to not be poisoned by lead," Poloncarz said. "However, it's about a $2 million total new expense only 36% of which is reimburseable. So that's another $1.3 million approximately that the county will be forced to spend."

There also is a series of new laws changing the criminal justice system, to speed the process and to keep more people from being locked up because they can't make bail. Poloncarz said that may eventually save money operating the Holding Center with fewer residents, but those savings might be a year down the line, while new workers in probation and 17 in the District Attorney's Office are already being hired.

The spending plan puts around $80 million into the county's tattered roads and bridges, up from around $72 million this year.

The budget now goes to the county legislature, which usually passes a final version in December.