Erie County

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Erie County Executive Poloncarz was upbeat Wednesday, saying in his State of the County message that the area is doing well and he has changed the tone of county government.

Erie County has lost its bid to recover the money it spent in the aftermath of the 2009 crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Clarence.

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A federal audit says Erie County should pay back $48.5 million in disaster relief costs associated with the 2006 'October Surprise' snowstorm. 

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A lake effect snow warning will remain in effect for Western New York until 10 PM Saturday night.

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Erie County Executive Poloncarz and other county officials are probing the vast details of Governor Cuomo's budget proposal for anything affecting this part of the state.

Erie County legislators have unanimously approved the memorandum of understanding on a new ten-year lease with the Buffalo Bills for their stadium in Orchard Park.

Plans for renovating Ralph Wilson Stadium were shared with Erie County lawmakers and County Executive Mark Poloncarz in Orchard Park Thursday.

Erie County's long-term costs for retiree health insurance coverage are apparently dropping as unions agree that retirees will pick up part of the costs.

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An early Christmas present for Buffalo Bills fans arrived in Orchard Park today. The team has signed a new 10-year lease with Erie County for Ralph Wilson Stadium that will keep the franchise in western New York for at least the near future.

Two union contracts ratified with county

Dec 15, 2012
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Erie County has reached ratified contract agreements with two unions representing workers at the County Holding Center, CSEA Local 815, and the Correctional Facility, Teamsters Local 264.

In a prepared statement, County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he will submit the agreements to the County Legislature for approval. Poloncarz also said he will request an efficiency grant from the county control board to help pay for some of the agreements. The new deals include union member requirements to pay a percentage of health care expenses.

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Sales tax revenue in Erie County is on the rise. 

Comptroller David Shenk says revenue was up more than 4-percent in October, compared to one year ago.  And for the first ten months of the year, sales tax revenue was up by nearly 9-million dollars over last year.  Shenk says while revenues look promising, maintaining revenue growth is a concern. 

Sales tax revenue is the single-greatest source of revenue for the county.

Erie County's sales tax collections are running ahead of budget, a good sign as the county fiscal year nears its fourth quarter.

Sales tax is the single largest source of cash for the county, last year reaching more than $400 million for the first time.

A lot of that cash arrives in loonies and toonies from Ontario, as shoppers come across the Niagara River to take advantage of lower taxes and often larger store stocks.

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.

Erie County & CSEA reach tentative deal

Jul 23, 2012

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.  

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It is expected that the basic framework of a new lease deal between Erie County and the Buffalo Bills could be structured within the next few weeks.

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Erie County will be seeking approval of a significant loan this week.

County Comptroller David Shenk will present lawmakers with a request for $80 million to cover expenses connected with Erie County Medical Center. The county's mandated responsibility in covering costs associated with care for poor and uninsured patients through the hospital and its nursing facility are expected to be higher than estimated.

The borrowing is necessary as the bill will likely be due before the county's revenue sources arrive.

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Data from the US Drought Monitor indicates that portions of Western New York have officially reached drought status.

The News reports that Niagara and a majority of Erie County have registered for "moderate drought" status. The City of Buffalo is down 5 inches from normal precipitation levels at this point in the year. Grand Island officials are asking residents to voluntarily restrict their water usage, and New York State is suspending existing burning permits and placing a temporary ban on residential burning.

Erie County's parks and beaches are now smoke-free. 

The Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein and other county leaders were joined Monday by members of the Erie-Niagara Tobacco Free Coalition at Como Lake Park in Lancaster  where they unveiled the first batch of "smoke-free" signs.

Burstein says the new smoke-free policy  is now in effect at all county-run parks and beaches.   She says the goal is to clear the air of second-hand smoke

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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.

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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.

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Nearly a dozen New York State counties, including Erie and Niagara, are being asked to return millions of dollars in Medicaid payments to Washington.

The monies in question were dispersed in 2009, and questions have arisen as to the guidelines provided for when these supplemental reimbursements are to be measured from and how much must be repaid. At issue are $5.3 million for Erie County and $1.3 million for Niagara County. Erie County used the money for ECMC hospital and nursing home expenses. Niagara County folded the money into its budget.

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The Huntley Power plant in the Town of Tonawanda will benefit from the settlement of a lawsuit from 2011.

The lawsuit entailed tax exemptions and assessments that the plant filed for and which were denied by the town's Board of Assessment Review. The award totals nearly $9 million, much of it coming from the Kenmore - Town of Tonawanda School District and the Town itself. Both entities made preparations for the payments.

Erie county also owes in the settlement, though there has been no comment from the County Executive.

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Erie County Democrats are eyeing Anthony Masiello as a possible replacement for party chairman Leonard Lenihan.

Lenihan's current two year term expires in September and Albany is pressuring him to step aside at that time. He claims that he will announce his intentions in the near future.

For Masiello's part, he had no comment.

Residents should be aware of new guidelines and regulations regarding the disposal of some household items.

Oil-based paint, for example, needs to be brought to hazardous waste collection site.

Associate Engineer Paul Kranz of the County Environment and Planning Department says latex paint can be thrown into the garbage tote, as long as the owner dries it out.

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After significant study, the Buffalo Bills are proposing that Ralph Wilson Stadium undergo a major renovation as new lease talks get underway.

The cost of the renovation is anticipated to be in the $200 million range, and much of that funding will be provided by taxpayers. It is a less expensive option than retrofitting the stadium or contracting for a new one. The current fifteen year lease agreement between Erie County and the Bills regarding Ralph Wilson Stadium expires in 2013.

Poloncarz releases four-year plan for Erie County

Apr 10, 2012
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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 photo Mark Leitner

Erie County is hoping it will be one of the five communities across the state to be approved for creation of a so-called land bank. 

The County's application was dashed off to Albany Friday, according to County Executive Mark Poloncarz. 

A landbank would address and hopefully help to remedy a steadily - growing problem of vacant, abandoned, and tax delinquent properties.

Cultural agencies receiving funding from Erie County are facing fewer strings attached to the money coming from the Rath Building.

During recent years, many culturals were required to accept Collins Administration appointees to their boards and provide free tickets to events even if the tickets were eventually not used.

In some cases, culturals saw their money delayed until the appointments were made.

That's even when in other cases, there was no longer a county grant but the appointees stayed on boards.

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.