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Joseph Lorigo's 4/19/12 West Seneca Bee column

Joseph Lorigo's 4/19/12 West Seneca Bee column

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Published by Alan Bedenko
This was referenced in the Buffalo News story about Mark Poloncarz's Q-rating on March 19, 2013
This was referenced in the Buffalo News story about Mark Poloncarz's Q-rating on March 19, 2013

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Published by: Alan Bedenko on Mar 19, 2013
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07/14/2013

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Revisions necessary to best reflect needs of county taxpayers
JOSEPH LORIGOErie County Legislator  A s a rule, predicting exactly what will happen down the road is impossible. But eachyear, through analysis of trends and forecasting changes in the economy, theCounty’s Executive and Legislative branches predict expenditures and revenues tocreate an annual budget reflecting what is anticipated in the coming year.In addition, the county executive creates a four-year plan, predicting which expensesor revenue will grow —and which won’t—in order for the county to best prepare itslong-range goals. This is especially important in dealing with large projects, such asreconstruction of roadways and bridges that can cost millions of dollars.The past few years saw a reduction in the county workforce, a growth in surplus andthe elimination of long-term debt —all positive changes for the taxpayers. This allowed the county to maintain itsoperating budget while providing sound financial planning for the capital budget. As the new county executive, Mark Poloncarz recently applied his foresight into a four-year plan. While the basicinformation discussed in the proposal appears straightforward and balanced, the plan seems to lack pertinent details thatcould have a major bearing on the county’s economic future.For starters, the plan calls for $5.4 million of reserves to be used in 2013 without explanation as to where the money willbe used. Dipping into reserves for recurring expenses would rapidly deplete the savings previously built through cost-cutting initiatives. The plan should outline exactly why these funds are being used. Also missing is an increase reflecting union contract settlements. One would reason that settling the seven contracts —some that expired more than five years ago —will cost taxpayers a significant amount in retroactive wage increases.2012-04-19 / Editorial
Page 1 of 4Revisions necessary to best reflect needs of county taxpayers | www.westsenecabee.com | ...3/19/2013http://www.westsenecabee.com/news/2012-04-19/Editorial/Revisions_necessary_to_best_r...
 
 According to one report, the county’s payroll for CSEA members is currently $120 million, so even a small increase willtake a toll on the county’s bottom line.The plan to remove only 50 county jobs through attrition should also cause taxpayers to pause. The main concern is thatpension and health insurance costs surpass $83 million a year. Erie County is one of the area’s largest employers, andmaintaining an excessive workforce is a large burden on all taxpayers who not only pay public employees’ salaries butbenefits as well.Reducing the county workforce by only 50 employees over four years, while being mindful of the jobs added back into the2012 budget, leaves the county workforce larger then it was at the end of 2011. In addition, the county executive’s planassumes every retiree is a position that does not need to be replaced.That is flawed thinking. Some positions in government are mandatory, and the county executive can’t control who files for retirement and when. The plan needs a real solution that will decrease the taxpayers’ responsibility for paying publicsector pensions.The 2012 pension cost for Erie County is $34,052,515; which amounts to 19 percent of the county payroll. In 2008, thecost of medical insurance was $46,499,000. Health insurance costs in 2012 are $53,486,881 —a 15 percent increase —substantially more than the 5 percent projection in the county executive’s plan. Health insurance should not be projectedto decrease.To best reflect the needs of taxpayers, aspects of the four-year plan should be altered and explained in greater detail.
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Page 2 of 4Revisions necessary to best reflect needs of county taxpayers | www.westsenecabee.com | ...3/19/2013http://www.westsenecabee.com/news/2012-04-19/Editorial/Revisions_necessary_to_best_r...
 
Page 3 of 4Revisions necessary to best reflect needs of county taxpayers | www.westsenecabee.com | ...3/19/2013http://www.westsenecabee.com/news/2012-04-19/Editorial/Revisions_necessary_to_best_r...

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