Erie County Legislators are now questioning why Erie County Executive Chris Collins has decided to withhold some money allocated for cultural institutions in 2010. Collins plans to withhold this money until March of 2011, which is when the books officially close for the fiscal year. Collins says the legislature increased cultural spending by $1.5 million in their adopted budget. According to Collins, because the increased spending is based on expected revenue, it is money that doesn't exist yet.
"We would consider it phantom dollars," said Spokesperson for the County Executive Grant Loomis. "You can not prove that money exists in the account until you close the books."
Many legislators also question why the money is being withheld since Collins just boasted more than a $40 million surplus for the county.
"I think it's a shame that these groups have to wait for the following year to receive funding. It's ridiculous," said Erie County Legislator Daniel Kozub.
In the adopted budget, 46 cultural organizations are listed. These include PUSH Buffalo, Botanical Gardens, and Alleyway Theatre. The organizations will now have to wait until March of 2011 to find out if they will receive the additional funding for 2010.