BUFFALO, NY (WIVB)-In a meeting that last more than two hours Thursday, Erie County Legislators approved a new budget for 2019 and also passed sweeping changes that affect smokers and stores which sell tobacco products.
Beginning in March of 2019, if you are caught smoking in a car with anyone under the age of 18, you could face a fine of $150 for the first offense. This same law bans smoking on all NFTA property including bus shelters. It also prohibits any store which has a pharmacy from selling tobacco products.
See more details of the new Public Health Protection Act in Erie County.
In the same meeting, legislators approved a new $1.5 billion spending plan for Erie County.It will lower the property rate by 2.2%,but some homeowners may still pay more than the current year because assessments on many homes may rise by more than than 2.2%.
The budget also adds 57 County jobs that are not in the current budget. The minority caucus members like Conservative Joseph Lorigo see this as a missed opportunity, claiming that the tax rate could have been lowered even more. "The time to give back to Erie County taxpayers is now," said Lorigo. The time to say 'look, we're doing the best we can with your money and we're doing so well that we're flush, so take it back."
Majority members like democrat April Baskin see this as a responsible budget that helps all residents. "The budget amendment is one that does speak to all of the residents of Erie County. All legislators have seen increases in resources, in arts and culturals that will benefit their districts."
Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz issued the following statement on the adoption of the 2019 Erie County Budget by the Erie County Legislature:
Poloncarz said, “The adopted 2019 budget is a sensible plan that not only builds on the progress we are making in Erie County but also includes a significant reduction in the 2019 property tax rate of about 2.2%, or eleven cents per thousand dollars of assessed value. This is the largest tax rate cut that county taxpayers have seen in more than a decade, highlighting Erie County’s fiscal strength as well as my administration’s responsible, realistic budgeting process which has reduced the tax rate in every budget since 2012. Once again Erie County will retain one of the lowest tax rates in New York State while still providing the services and programs that residents expect and still remaining under the NYS-imposed tax cap.”
“The budget process is never easy but the end result should be the one that best serves the people of Erie County and this adopted budget does that, with additional funding for roads and infrastructure along with expanded support for the programs and services that the public expects and demands. Along with the county Division of Budget and Management I would like to thank the legislative team who rolled up their sleeves to get this budget done, meeting on weekends and after hours to work out solutions and show the people of Erie County how good, bi-partisan government conducts itself. Among these public servants are Legislature Chairman Savage, Finance and Management Committee Chair Miller-Williams, and Legislator Hardwick, all of whom recognized the need to produce a practical budget that continues to move our county forward and worked cooperatively to meet that need.”