The Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority unanimously signed off on County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz’ 2014 budget proposal and four-year plan during a brief meeting Thursday in the Central Library.
The five-member panel, otherwise known as the control board, also agreed to continue acting in an advisory capacity to the Budget Office, as it regards the board’s role in providing oversight of the county’s nearly $1.4 billion fiscal operation.
Control Board Chairman James M. Sampson said board members expressed concerns about overtime, particularly in the Sheriff’s Office, and revenue projections by the Budget Office.
“But we’re comfortable the administration is aware of those concerns and that they monitor and manage whenever there are shortfalls in a revenue line,” Sampson said.
The 2014 budget plan unveiled by Poloncarz two weeks ago holds the line on taxes, maintaining the current property tax rate of $5.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, yet increases spending by $15.5 million, or 1.1 percent, over this year’s figure.
Poloncarz on Thursday said the control board’s unanimous approval indicates that the administration has been successful in crafting a fair and balanced budget plan.
“While we both agree that in a perfect world all costs should be met with reoccurring revenues, in understanding that is not always possible they believe the measures we have taken to close the budget gaps we face are both reasonable and financially sound,” he said.
In a news release Thursday, County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw expressed the belief that the control board shared his concerns about the administration’s budget proposal.
“I feel vindicated,” said Mychajliw, who is running for re-election Tuesday.
“The control board shared the same concerns the Office of Comptroller expressed regarding the proposed 2014 budget,” he said.
“I have held the administration accountable all year because of their overly aggressive and overly optimistic sales tax revenue projections. They are not reasonable and could create a gap in the 2013 budget,” Mychajliw added.
Sampson stopped short of agreeing with Mychajliw’s assessment, noting that while the control board had concerns about potential risk factors, there was still confidence that the administration would remain on top of them.
Mychajliw has been critical of the administration’s sales tax revenue projections for 2013, calling them overly aggressive.
With the growth in sales tax revenue having come in way under the administration’s initial projection rate of 3.5 percent for this year, anticipated increases for 2014 through 2017 have been reduced to 2.7 percent.
“We don’t think that’s at all unreasonable,” said Sampson.
The Legislature will hold public hearings on the plan next month before a final budget is adopted Dec. 3.