Local governments plead with Washington for operational help

Apr 22, 2020

With the cost of the coronavirus crisis hitting local governments, they are pleading with Washington to put some cash into the various stimulus bills to help them continue to operate.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw are making the same pitch, suggesting direct aid to local governments, not funneled through state governments.

Four town supervisors joined them at a virtual news conference Tuesday. Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa said his town faces a massive hit in revenues.

"Revenue gap that has taken the shape in terms of sales tax revenue share and mortgage tax and fees that we would be collecting this time of year. As we look at the revenue gap expanding, for different municipalities, we're limited in what we can do in terms of capping expenditures," Kulpa said.

Amherst isn't alone. Just across Niagara Falls Boulevard, the Town of Tonawanda is looking at a more than $4 million hole punched in the town's $46 million budget. Tonawanda Deputy Supervisor John Bargnesi said it is affecting basic services like water and sewer.

"They are my essential people, alongside my police department and fire department," he said. "These full-time workers, I have a staff of over 110 people in this department. I have 34 that have not had a day off because they can't. They can't. We're supplying water to over 100,000 people, as I stated. They are my frontline people. Water has to keep flowing."

Bargnesi is running things because Town Supervisor Joe Emminger is being treated for COVID-19.

Eden Supervisor Missy Hartman said services or taxes will be hit without federal help.

"This isn't your local politician asking for money. This is your local politician fighting for the residents in your town so that it won't directly impact having to raise taxes next year on a population that isn't going to be able to afford that."