BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Erie County Executive is focusing on dollars and cents as he looks to the future and spelled out ways he wants to serve residents without wasting their money.
Residents in Erie County already pay $5,000 or more in property taxes, and that figure isn’t comprised solely of county taxes. Towns and villages also tax for just about every service they provide.
Mark Poloncarz is putting the onus on them to consolidate those services, and save residents money, though he admits it’s a challenge to keep services affordable.
“I believe the average county homeowner would be surprised to hear that they actually pay less in real property taxes to Erie County in 2014 than they did in 1990,” he said.
It is over 1,000 special taxing districts, says Poloncarz, that take so much money out of taxpayers’ pockets.
He explained, “These special taxing districts include lighting districts, fire districts, drainage districts, sewer districts, garbage districts, even insect control districts, and of course, school districts.”
In his 2014 State of the County address Wednesday, Poloncarz praised Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to reduce property taxes by eliminating some of those “little governments.”
“By creating incentives for municipalities to reduce costs through shared services,” Poloncarz said.
And while highlighting recent reforms made to Erie County Child Protective Services, including additional caseworkers and a stronger supervisory support structure, Poloncarz added “We are now placing caseworkers at the hospitals that do the most intake of children in need – Children’s Hospital and Sisters Hospitals.”
The County Executive also sounded the alarm over increasing poverty rates, even outside the City of Buffalo. One-quarter of Erie County’s population receives Medicaid; with enrollment increasing by about four percent each year.
“An effective anti-poverty strategy requires more than just creating good-paying jobs. It requires economic development efforts and human service programs working hand in hand,” Poloncarz said.
On the economic front, the County Executive wants town industrial development agencies to follow the county IDA’s lead, and establish a “clawback” policy – whereby they take back money and tax incentives, if businesses don’t create the jobs they’ve promised.