( release) During his fourth annual State of the County address, Erie County Executive Chris Collins announced his plan to use surplus dollars to pay cash for several upcoming infrastructure and capital projects, instead of borrowing the money as governments typically do. While the County is still closing the books on 2010, Collins plans to use last year’s operational surplus to continue to reduce the County’s debt burden and pay cash for the county’s contributions toward building the new state-of-the-art nursing home on ECMC’s campus ($11.5 million) and the new Center of Excellence Building on ECC’s North Campus ($7.5 million). The surplus will also be used to pay cash for several road projects and other needed improvements to the County’s aging facilities.
“A politician would use the surplus to offer a token tax rebate, or worse yet, spend every penny of it to curry favor with the special interests,” said Collins. “As a chief executive, I’m doing what every household in America is doing in these uncertain times: cutting expenses, saving when possible, paying down debt and using cash instead of credit. It’s not government as usual, and that’s just what the hardworking taxpayers of our community are demanding. And it’s what our children and grandchildren deserve.”
Collins also outlined the growing burden New York State’s unsustainable and overly generous Medicaid program is having on the County’s hardworking taxpayers. Collins again called on Albany to pass legislation that would give local governments, like Erie County, the ability to ‘opt-out’ of non-mandated Medicaid programs. Allowing counties to design their own program would provide vital service, but save taxpayers millions of dollars in unaffordable costs.
“This legislative solution is not one size fits all,” said Collins. “Instead, it allows local governments to tailor a program to fit the needs of their residents and balance that with the ability of their taxpayers to foot the bill. County governments are drowning in Medicaid costs. The least New York State can do is allow these same governments to build their own life raft.”
Collins delivered his speech to a crowd at South Buffalo Charter School, where he also took time to support the local charter school movement as a way to give parents a choice and students a high-quality, results orientated education. The County Executive also detailed several successful economic development programs that are working to create jobs in the private sector and help local businesses grow despite a weak national economy.