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Erie County's fiscal shortage could results in layoffs


Erie County is running out of money and County Executive Mark Poloncarz said there may have to be worker layoffs because he doesn't have the money to keep paying them.

The county has been forced to spend millions of dollars on healthcare costs for the sick and the dying. At the same time, revenues have plummeted, especially in sales tax revenues.

The county executive has been warning that county finances are rocky. The most recent federal bailout didn't include any money for local governments and there may not be another stimulus bill.

Speaking during his daily briefing Monday, Poloncarz said the past is not returning.

"I'd love to be able to say that we'll be back to business as usual in short order, but I know that's not the case," he said. "And if we do not have the revenue to pay for the services that are to be provided - whereas it has been stated by the governor's office, they're expecting a large cut to local government funding, including the aid we received - we have to respond. I just can't pay for positions I don't have money to pay for."

The county executive said he has requested additional federal help.

"I'm also in touch with Senator Schumer's office and I talked to the senator a couple of weeks ago. I'm going to be hopefully talking to him again later this week," Poloncarz said. "I'm requesting federal assistance for the loss of revenues for local governments, not just Erie County, but other local governments, as well. We'll be looking at all measures including potential mid-year budget adjustments, as necessary. I do not want to have to lay anyone off."

The county has been paying workers, whether they are working from home, still on the job or just home. With the governor saying he is dealing with a budget deficit approaching $15 billion, there likely isn't any aid from Albany on the way.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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