Buffalo, NY –(release) Today the Democratic Majority of the Erie County Legislature released a full analysis of each of the cuts it has proposed for the 2011 Budget. The analysis demonstrates that each cut is fully lawful and entirely within the legal authority of the Legislature.
The total dollar value of the cuts made by the Democratic Majority is approximately $8.2 million. The total dollar value of the restorations is $8.1 million, thus returning approximately $100,000 to the taxpayers. Approximately $5.5 million of the restorations had a super majority of votes, enjoying the support of some, if not all, of the members of the Republican caucus.
Meanwhile, the County Executive has indicated he will veto many items restored in the Budget, including funding for cultural organizations, the Comptroller’s office, summer youth programs, and potentially the libraries. He irresponsibly and incorrectly claims that the Democratic Majority’s Amended Budget will raise property taxes if his vetoes are overridden. In reality, any tax increase can only be caused by the County Executive attempting to ignore the cuts made by the Legislature. The attached analysis of the cuts shows a justification for each one and demonstrates that each is proper.
“I stand by our work,” said Democratic Majority Leader, Maria R. Whyte (D-Buffalo). “The County Executive has grossly misled the public by saying there will be a property tax increase. He has done so in an effort to bully the members of the Republican caucus into not overriding his vetoes.”
“We listened to this community,” said Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams (D-Buffalo). “We were able to restore the things this community said was important and we did so without raising taxes.”
“Our budget amendments do not raise taxes!” said Legislator Lynn Marinelli (D-Buffalo/Tonawanda). “We also spent less than the Executive proposed and restored the vital services this community has clearly called for.”
“The Democratic Majority did not raise taxes. No one should raise taxes in these tough economic times,” said Legislator Christina Bove (D-West Seneca), “and our amendment package reflects that priority.”
Legislators Miller-Williams, Whyte, Marinelli, and Bove are all members of the Finance, Management and Budget Committee.
Here is the release from the Comptroller's Office:
COMPTROLLER ISSUES STATEMENT ON ERIE COUNTY LEGISLATURE'S 2011 BUDGET AMENDMENTS
Comptroller Review Finds Budget Amendments to be Balanced and Reasonable
No Increase in the County Property Tax Rate due to the Legislature Amendments
Erie County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz today issued a letter to the Erie County Legislature ("Legislature") analyzing the Legislature's amendments to the proposed 2011 Erie County Budget. A copy of that letter is attached. In addition, the Comptroller has issued the following statement concerning the Legislature's amendments to the proposed 2011 Budget.
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My office has reviewed the 2011 budget amendments approved by the Legislature and has determined that they are reasonable. Our analysis takes into consideration final 2009 actual and 2010 year-to-date spending in the various accounts that were reduced and amended by the Legislature, specifically the reductions in the County Attorney's Risk Retention Fund and fringe benefits accounts. When comparing 2009 and 2010 spending in these accounts against the County Executive's proposed 2011 budget, we believe that 2011 appropriations in these accounts were over-stated by the Collins Administration. The administration's projections on fringe benefits in many departments were significantly higher than necessary and were inconsistent across departments with no clear rationale or logic.
The Legislature's amendments total only $8.2 million out of a total General Fund budget of $1.04 billion. Considering the size of the County's budget, this amendment package is a total change of only .007% – not even one percent (1.0%) – of the County's General Fund budget. These amendments do not increase total spending above the County Executive's proposed 2011 Budget and are budget-neutral, contrary to the County Executive's recent statements this week.
There will be no effect on the County property tax rate and there is no increase in the property tax due to the Legislature amendments. I can assure the citizens of Erie County that the County Executive's statements are wrong and the Legislature's modest budget amendments are reasonable
Eyewitness News will follow the latest battle put forth by local arts and cultural organizations to maintain their share of the budget pie.