Erie County Executive Brenton Davis has submitted vetoes for several line items in the county budget, saying they are not worth the money to local taxpayers.
Davis says it’s a matter of being proactive in areas that we have not been in decades.
He added that too many people are playing politics with the budget as opposed to moving our community forward. Also that the projects are viable, but they have to see where the tax money is going.
The vetoes include $750,000 to the Savocchio Park project administered by the Erie County Redevelopment Authority.
“And to have something like Savocchio Park that was presented with no materials, absolutely no materials, for $750,000 tax payer dollars, by the very same individual that said Project Resolve was vague, that is nothing but pure politics and sloppy government,” said Brenton Davis, Erie County Executive.
Erie County Executive Brenton Davis has vetoed select line items of the 2023 Erie County budget that recently was approved by the Erie County Council.
On Dec. 8, Davis announced the following vetoes and included the following explanations:
“Gaming Fund Budget
“#10 – Veto $30,000 in Gaming Funds for MECA. This organization is not up-to-date with 990 reporting, and their record of accomplishment in delivering services is poor. Other well-funded agencies, including Erie County Care Management already perform MECA’s stated mission with much more efficiency.
“General Fund Budget
“#28- Reduction of County Executive Travel line by $10,000. This reduction interferes in my ability to lobby for state and federal funding, to market Erie County around the Country, to learn new and better ways to operate and network with County and Municipal Leaders. Travel is currency for bringing positive change to our region. Requiring the Administration to come back to County Council for additional funding next year is not appropriate, as it places Council in the role of arbiter over my work.
“#30 – Reduction of Travel line in Economic Development by $35,000. A majority of Council Members took the crucial step to create the Economic Development Department on May 3, 2022. In order for the Department to function effectively, it must meet with other professionals in the field, attend conferences, and visit potential businesses in an effort to promote commerce or location. Travel is currency for accomplishing our goals and upholding our promise to bring economic change to our community.
“#31- Reduction of Professional Fees Line in Economic Development from $100,000 to $26,036. The County is in dire need of infrastructure; whether one speaks of broadband, sewer, water or transportation. In order for the Department to pursue different opportunities there must be some flexibility and ability to pivot and bring funding to bear. Council has clearly stated that it prefers two readings on all ordinances, which amounts to 30 days. Reduction of this funding erodes our ability to react to opportunity and once again places Council as the arbiter for all Administration economic development initiatives. Any project referenced above would need a project consultant or professional. The ability to spend up to $24,000 is reasonable for County business. Amounts exceeding that must align with the requirements of the Purchasing Code. The Department must have resources to operate effectively.
“#32- Reduction of Economic Development Initiatives Line from $100,000 to $20,000 Restricted. This funding is vital to the ability of the Department to react and bring resources to a situation. The Purchasing Code acts as a control for expenses over $25,000, so this line is not an open checkbook by any means. This action sheet is an overreach into the operations of an Administrative Department that requires agility. This action sheet places Part-time Council Members as defacto Cabinet Members running the Economic Development Operation.
“#37- Elimination of HR Position Number #002200-010. The HR Department recently received eight applicants interested in this significant recruitment and DEI position. The County as with all large employers is in competition to fill many vacancies. In order to continue the current upward trend we need to keep our team at full complement. County Council created positions last year to improve our recruitment of a more diverse staff. The Department is delivering results in that area and in the improvement of employee culture. The position title change to generalist was done only to most efficiently use staff in all areas of the operation. The Director has aligned the titles consistent with her experience at Erie Insurance.
“#39- Elimination of new Deputy Director Position in Tax Revenue. Erie County is one of only a few counties in the Commonwealth without a Deputy in Tax Claim. This operation successfully collects and processes hundreds of millions of dollars each year without incident. It is essential in terms of succession and continuation of operations in the case of any adverse circumstance. The Department is utilizing brand new software that will bring new responsibilities and work into the office. There has been a trend of smaller municipalities turning over tax collecting duties due to lack of qualified candidates. To accommodate this trend the Department needs a second managerial position.
“#45-Elimination of IT Position Number #002812-005. This position will serve the Department of Human Services specifically. The position is 80% funded by State dollars. DHS has the remaining 20%, so they do not need additional County funds. The IT operations in DHS are very significant and this position brings with it a new set of duties important to the operation.
“American Rescue Plan Fund Budget
“#5 – $750,000 to the Savocchio Park project administered by the Erie County Redevelopment Authority. This speculative investment of $750,000 in ARPA funds does not show a significant return on investment. To allocate such a large portion of the County’s ARPA dollars into a fish farm that may only yield a dozen jobs is imprudent. I have the utmost confidence in the work of the ECRDA and their partners but in the final analysis, these valuable funds could be more impactful elsewhere.
“#6- $3,000,000 to ECGRA for Building Better Future Program. I have been negotiating in good faith all year to reach an ARPA Budget through your committee and the whole of Council. This action removes the County’s ability to make its own funding decisions, which was at the heart of my objections to the 2022 ARPA Budget. This was also decided very quickly and without much debate. The Gaming Authority received $4M 2021 ARPA Funds that is sufficient. I believe real economic impact comes through the expenditure of ARP monies on allowable infrastructure projects. In order to coordinate our efforts most efficiently, the County should make the final spending decisions not a third party. There is no need to rush this money out of the ARPA Fund Balance.
“#13- $737,500 for ECGRA to fund the Beehive Network. I agree 100% that the Beehive Network should receive these funds, but see no need for ECGRA to administer them. I favor giving the funds to the Beehive directly. The four universities have worked cooperatively to grow the Beehive. The County can negotiate an agreement with Beehive members and administer these funds without issue. I brought this idea to Council with my ARPA budget proposal. Let us work directly with the Beehive.”