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Erie County comptroller declares deficit, county executive calls it 'premature'

Office of the Erie County Executive

Erie County Comptoller Stefan Mychajliw, in a Monday morning tweet, declared the county to be in a budget deficit, and put the county executive "on notice" to come up with a plan to fix it.

Mychajliw gave County Executive Mark Poloncarz seven days to present a remedy plan to the Erie County Legislature in his morning tweet.

Poloncarz, during his Monday afternoon COVID-19 briefing, said while the county will certainly see a shortfall due to the pandemic and the closings ordered by NY PAUSE, it is premature to declare a deficit.

"We're actually sending over a budget monitoring report today that shows in the first quarter, we ended up with a $2.4 million surplus," he said. "The first quarter of the year was a good year, but had a bad April. We haven't even gotten our first sales tax numbers in yet or April. Those will be coming soon."

Poloncarz added that he and his department heads will come up with a fiscal plan, but it depends on how much money will come from the federal government in its fourth round of economic stimulus legislation.

"I've had conversations with Senator Chuck Schumer. I've had conversations with our representatives in Washington, DC, with the National Association of Counties, as well as in Albany with the New York State Association of Counties. We all believe that a stimulus package will be coming forth," he said. "I'm hopeful that something will be finalized in the next week, and then voted on in the next two or three weeks."

In the meantime, the county executive encouraged small businesses to take advantage of help available through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. He said he learned, to his surprise, that not as many businesses have applied for ECIDA assistance as was anticipated. He also encouraged small business owners to contact the Buffalo Niagara Partnership for help.

"The business link is a great thing to connect businesses with other businesses and partners so that they can continue to hopefully grow during this very difficult time," he said. "And we know a lot of folks that are small business owners have applied for SBA loans. I've already heard of many stories of SBA loans being received by companies."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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