Budget Concerns for Erie County

July 16, 2012 Updated Jul 16, 2012 at 12:48 PM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

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July 16, 2012 Updated Jul 16, 2012 at 12:48 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has been on the job for more than six months. He said there is a $6.6 million dollar surplus in the budget but he has his doubts about what the future will hold.

"We have a balanced budget for the first five months but if things continue we have some tough times going forward. I'm very worried of the financial status of the county," Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz said there are numerous reasons for concern, starting with the counties financial obligation to ECMC for uninsured patients. In the past, the fix rate was about $16 million dollars. The cost could balloon to more than $50 million dollars this year, with similar rates over the next four years.

"We're finding ways to address this problem without negatively impacting our budget. But as stated we expect these numbers to continue, at least until 2016," Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz said the Affordable Patient Care Act and moving the county nursing home to the ECMC campus are two ways to help reduce these costs.

The second concern for this year's budget is states mandate to hire dozens of workers at the Sheriff Office, costing the county millions.

"We also have been mandated to hire 72 deputies in the next few years and 7 civilian staff. This is a cost of more than $6 million in total," Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz said in the last administration, there was also $3.3 million in Capital Projects that were started, under the radar. The county now has to deal with paying for those projects, which include a half a million dollars in air handling units at the Rath Building and almost a million dollars in improvements to the boiler room at the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden.

"It appears the county began about a half dozen construction project that were started in prior administration that were either grossly under funded or there were no funding sources at all," Poloncarz said.

There are many other issues that the county is dealing with but Poloncarz said they won't know if they county will come out on top for a few more months.