Lawmakers cut tax hike from budget

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County lawmakers have stripped the 3.4 percent property tax hike out of County Executive Mark Poloncarz' budget.

Amherst Democrat Tom Loughran provided the swing vote and sided with Republicans in approving a budget that eliminates the need for a property tax increase by making a series of cuts instead.R

RELATED | See Poloncarz' original budget here

Legislator Loughran said, "And I think these amendments are in the best interest of the middle class. I think these cuts are reasonable. I think that this economy is still vulnerable."

The Risk Retention Fund will be cut by three million dollars, jail overtime is trimmed by almost a million dollars, and the fringe benefits pool goes down almost two million dollars. But the fact that these are one time cuts concerns the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority.

Executive Director Kenneth Vetter said, "If that's not replenished somehow, over a four-year period of time, that would mean there's a $34 million gap in the financial plan."

Whether the concerns of the Control Board are enough to return it to "hard" status will be decided in the next few months. It also depends on how Poloncarz adjusts to these budget cuts.

"We will be forced to shift that focus on correcting the structural issues within this budget in the four-year plan in an attempt to stave off a "hard" Control Board. This was entirely avoidable," the County Executive said.

But Minority Leader Leg. John Mills contended, "I don't believe in tying up taxpayer dollars in a fund unless we need those dollars. This I think is appropriate and I think it's reasonable."

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