Erie County now projecting $82M budget deficit, as pandemic continues its ravage

Oct 1, 2020

Erie County is faced with major spending cuts for next year, after cutting planned spending this year. County Executive Mark Poloncarz is working with an alliance of government, community and business groups pleading with Washington for another bailout of state and local governments.

Without more federal dollars, the county executive told his briefing Wednesday there will be cuts and potentially even larger cuts. He said many of his initiatives have fallen victim to the budget cuts, like his long-planned ErieNet system, creating a backbone to allow broadband access in every part of the county.

Poloncarz said a $100 million deficit was projected this year, but with cuts, that has been reduced to a probable $82 million deficit next year.

"We've taken actions already. There will be job cuts. We are trying to do everything possible to avoid cuts to needed services and organizations across our community," Poloncarz said. "That's why it's important that I will always propose a budget that balances, that's fiscally responsible. I'm responsible to issue that budget by Oct. 15 and I will, regardless of what happens in Washington."

All of Albany's fiscal problems are rolling down on local governments, with a variety of programs counties depend on not getting the state money that was expected in local budgets and that could get worse.

Poloncarz said every county department was told to present a 5% cut in its budget for next year.

"Some did, some did not and everything is on the table," Poloncarz said. "I will never allow the county to return back to the Red/Green fiscal crisis days. We will balance our budget, using strong fiscal mechanisms that are not smoke and mirrors, like those old days."