Poloncarz issues order eliminating 7-day requirement for deficit proposal

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw’s office says County Executive Mark Poloncarz has not provided a deficit reduction plan to the County Legislature.

One week ago, the Comptroller declared a deficit.

Mychajliw wrote a letter to the Erie County Legislature, informing them that projected revenues through the end of the fiscal year are less than what was appropriated.

As a result, Mychajliw says this will lead to “a projected year-end deficit in excess of 50 percent of the county’s undesignated, unreserved fund balance, as of the end of the 2019 fiscal year.”

At the end of that fiscal year, the unaudited total general fund balance was $173,749,601.

Overall, Mychajliw estimates Erie County’s revenue shortfall to be more than $206 million.

The County says that in accordance with the Erie County Charter, County Executive Mark Poloncarz was supposed to draft a written proposal of remedies to overcome the deficit within seven days.

The Erie County Legislature did not receive a plan, Mychajliw says. In addition to that, he says Poloncarz issued an executive order that eliminates the seven-day requirement for a proposal.

“Mark Poloncarz is sticking his head in the sand about the deficit. It exists. It is here. The County Executive is behaving like politicians did at the start of the ‘Red-Green’ budget crisis. Mr. Poloncarz is ignoring the deficit. If he does not want to lead, I will. My office is working diligently on providing solutions to erase the deficit. That being said, Mark Poloncarz is also opening up Erie County to the risk of being sued by the Legislature or a concerned taxpayer. It could be argued that his unbridled power grab is illegal. Checks and balances exist for a reason. A reasonable person can conclude Executive Orders disguised as power grabs do not supersede the Charter and laws that governs Erie County.”

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw

On the day Mychajliw declared a deficit, Poloncarz announced that he thought it was too early to do so.

“It is critical to know what further action will be taken by the federal government in the form of financial relief,” Poloncarz said four days later. “Knowing how much aid Erie County will receive in the fourth coronavirus bill, if any, is necessary to accurately prepare a deficit response plan.”

Prior to Mychajliw declaring a deficit, the County Executive asked for independently elected officials to propose 13.1 percent cuts across each of their offices.

“It’s not, one will receive more than the others. It will be a 13-percent cut across the board,” Poloncarz said.

Evan Anstey is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here.

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