Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz issued the following statement on the adoption of the 2017 Erie County Budget by the Erie County Legislature:
“Today, following negotiations with my administration, the Erie County Legislature (“Legislature”) voted unanimously to adopt my proposed 2017 Erie County Budget (“Budget”) with very few changes, demonstrating that my initial proposals were sound, accurate and in the best interests of the residents of Erie County. It is satisfying to see that the months of hard work by the Erie County Division of Budget and Management and our department heads in devising this responsible budget were recognized and affirmed by the Legislature today, which also supported my proposal to lower property taxes by two cents to $4.94 per thousand dollars of assessed value. With this move Erie County retains one of the lowest tax rates in New York State while still providing the services and programs that residents expect.
Out of my proposed budget of $1.69 billion, the Legislature today made amendments totaling only $2 million, or 0.001%, which is one one-thousandth of a percent of the overall budget. This reflects real support for the direction Erie County is headed in and shows that government can productively work together to do the people’s business. I thank the Legislature for their bipartisan support of this common-sense budget and for working with me to develop this practical plan.
Among numerous agencies receiving county funding is Visit Buffalo Niagara, which will be receiving a total of $3,504,818 in the approved 2017 Budget, or a $150,318 increase from the adopted 2016 Budget. Included in the total for 2017 is $100,000 to be used by Visit Buffalo Niagara to assist in various tourism-related promotion endeavors, including, but not limited to promoting ridesharing. Further refinement of how this additional amount will be spent will be discussed by my administration and Visit Buffalo Niagara next month during the normal annual process of preparing a contract for all vendors who receive appropriations from the County.
It is important to note the decision to authorize ridesharing in Erie County and western New York resides with leaders in state government. While there are important issues to resolve regarding whether drivers for ridesharing companies are employees, residents and tourists in New York City can use various ridesharing companies and it is more than past time for upstate to join the rest of the world and do the same. My hope is that the governor, assembly and senate can resolve this issue very soon so Visit Buffalo Niagara can use the additional resources allocated in the 2017 Budget for purposes which will generate additional revenue to our region by attracting additional tourists.”