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Mid-year budget hearings show surplus for 2013

Following is a guest column submitted by Erie County Legislator John Mills.

The legislature was quite busy, during the month of July. We held our last sessions and committee meetings before the summer recess, in addition to the mid-budget hearings.

With more than half the year behind us, we look back on what transpired, while focusing on obstacles that lie ahead.

We have learned that, as predicted, collected sales tax is short of the county executive’s forecasted amount. Erie County will continue to monitor those figures and we may need to make adjustments, if the county doesn’t meet our targeted revenue total, for the year.

During my tenure as a legislator, I have seen that each budget has its ups and downs. This year, many of the county’s departments reported they are on track to operate within their budget for 2013. Some departments are operating below budget. Overall, the county has a surplus, which is very good news, as we go into the second half of the year.

I anticipate that we’ll see much of the same sales tax trends and spending from now through Dec. 31. If necessary, modifications can be made, to ensure a balanced budget.

As a member of the legislature’s finance and management committee, I want to thank the county’s directors and commissioners, for providing the legislature with a thorough analysis of their departments’ current statuses.

This information is extremely important, as we are only a few months away from the county executive releasing his proposed 2014 budget.

Last year, the county executive requested an $8 million tax increase, as part of his $1.4 billion budget. Through a bipartisan effort, six members of the legislature blocked that tax increase, presenting taxpayers with a budget that held the line on taxes.

Many of our residents continue to struggle in this tough economy and many families are still affected by unemployment, rising costs and other factors. It would have been inappropriate to ask taxpayers for more.

With an approved, balanced budget, the county was still able to open the beaches; the libraries are offering their summer programs and critical services are still being provided. The county was not devastated by saving residents from a tax increase.

The county’s departments are ready to serve you. If you have any questions about a department, please contact my office at 858-8850 or email me at john.mills@erie.gov.


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