"A budget of the people, by the people"

Poloncarz proposes budget that increases assistance for those who need it most Ð without increasing taxes

Though there are all too many economic hardships challenging residents of Erie County, increased taxes in the coming year won't be one of them.

On Wednesday, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz released his proposed budget for 2015, which features a continued maintenance of 2009’s property taxes, which total $5.03 per $1,000 assessed valuation. Six years without increased taxes is impressive to begin with, but even better, taxes now are lower than they were in the ’90s.

The insistence on retaining tax levels shows an admirable commitment to residents' financial well-being, and an understanding of the financial struggles so many families continue to face. Poloncarz deserves praise for avoiding a move that would have added another monetary burden to households that already have to fight to make ends meet.

Republicans in the legislature have nonetheless managed to disapprove of the proposed budget. Legislature Majority Leader Joseph C. Lorigo and County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw are unhappy taxes were maintained rather than decreased and argue that even the lack of increase was thanks to the legislature and not Poloncarz.

Their complaints serve only as a diversion from what is undoubtedly a triumph for Erie County, and their attempts to simultaneously denounce Poloncarz’s proposal while also taking credit are humorous at best.

While the budget has its flaws – including a net reduction of eight jobs – it also increases funding for a variety of worthy community organizations.

These include the country’s libraries, which will enjoy a budget increase of slightly more than $450,000 and $1 million in capital funding to improve the downtown Central Library.

More critically, important “safety net” programs will receive additional support. Increased funding will go to programs addressing youth detention, child welfare, foster care, child protective serves and family assistance programs, according to The Buffalo News.

In addition to the much-needed funding, the budget proposes new positions of employments to addressed increased needs for assistance for veterans, juveniles on probation and heroin abuse and addiction.

This proposed budget’s focus is appropriately honed, sending funds to the neediest and most endangered members of the Erie County community.

The services receiving additional financial support and increased employment are those that can help to prevent the development of more insidious, long-term issues in the community – helping youths avoid jail-time and attacking the growing use of heroin before it turns into an epidemic.

Political quibbles aside – trivial partisan bickering accomplishes nothing but needless distraction – this proposed budget is commendable in its attention to the needs of the community and impressive in its commitment to increased funding without increased taxes.

email: editorial@ubspectrum.com