Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Erie County Executive Chris Collins has submitted a new Four-Year Financial Plan to the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority, it was announced Monday.
The plan is balanced and does not include out year budget gaps or an increase in the County property tax rate. The Four-Year Plan is a management tool that provides an outlook on county finances through 2014. The new plan is based not only on the 2011 Adopted Budget, but final financial results for 2010 and the first quarter of 2011.
“I am very proud of this plan as it is realistic, reasonable, and most importantly, a reflection of the no-nonsense approach to budgeting my administration has taken from day one,” Collins said. “We continue to hold the line on taxes, use recurring revenues to pay for recurring expenses, and eliminate over $190 million of taxpayer debt over the next several years. Let there be no mistake, Erie County is in solid financial shape. To achieve this sort of budget, you have to be willing to make tough decisions. The same decisions many Erie County families are making with their own finances.
“This Four-Year Plan is in great contrast from the financial reality the County faced when I took office in 2008. We were under a state imposed ‘hard’ Control Board with a bond rating that was near junk bond status. The County had significant budget caps going forward, had no rainy day fund to protect taxpayers, and was borrowing to pay for routine maintenance costs. On behalf of Erie County’s taxpayers, we have come a long way in three-and-a-half years.”
Highlights of Collins’ new Four-Year Plan include:
• No out year budget gaps (modest surpluses in 2013 and 2014).
• Keeps property tax rate flat.
• Reduction of over $190 million in long-term debt from 2007-2014.
• Elimination of 300 jobs in 2012 (workforce reduction of 20% since 2008 thanks to Lean Six Sigma).
• Sales tax growth at 3% (based on final 2010 results).
• Real property assessment growth at 2% (in line with possible NYS property tax cap).
• Use of recurring revenues for recurring expenses.
• Minimal use of fund balance to pay for non-recurring debt service in 2012.
• Maintains a healthy Undesignated Fund Balance of $80 million, which is approximately $29 million above the County Charter mandated 5% (appropriate and responsible based on $1.1 billion budget).
• Capital Budget that continues maintenance and improvements to county infrastructure including roads, bridges and parks (No longer use long term bonds to pay for routine road maintenance, expense now built into operating budget).
• Plans to have Stability Authority continue to perform borrowing for Erie County, saving millions each year.
The Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority is expected to vote and approve the new Four-Year Plan on June 13, 2011.