Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced that Erie County will end 2015 with a positive budget variance of more than $18 million and an increase in the County’s unassigned/undesignated fund balance totaling $7.64 million.
“This budget surplus is the result of balanced decisions and careful stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Erie County residents have demanded a government that is flexible, efficient, and is a good steward of County resources. This surplus shows that my administration has once again been able to prudently and effectively manage the County’s $1.7 billion budget, develop a modest surplus, and increase the unassigned fund balance.”
The 2015 fiscal results are all the more remarkable given the fact that the County came in under budget on its largest revenue source – sales tax – by $8.4 million, driven in part by fewer Canadian guests shopping in Erie County and lower fuel costs.
The county executive added, “For the fourth year in a row, we have maintained spending and vacancy controls, and completed cost-saving measures while still allocating funds for important community programs and initiatives. Along with other fortuitous but unanticipated revenues and lower than expected expenses in certain programs such as Medicaid, these projections continue to reflect realistic budgeting and our prudent stewardship of County finances.”
The surplus will add $7.64 million to the County’s unassigned General Fund balance, bringing that balance – the County’s cash reserves – to $99.86 million at year end 2015. The unassigned fund balance is the level required under Article 25 of the Erie County Charter. Under the Charter requirement, the County is expected to maintain a level of around $55 million.
With authorization from the Erie County Legislature, the County designated and rolled over $11 million of the 2015 positive variance into the 2016 Budget to help pay for new 2016 programs including fighting the opioid crisis, strengthening lead paint poisoning prevention programs, conducting new road work, purchasing heavy highway repair vehicles, and providing a supplemental appropriation to Erie Community College for an early retirement incentive.