In a seven-hour marathon Erie County Council meeting on Wednesday, a budget for next year was passed and funding for several local agencies and projects was finalized.
Erie County Council passed the 2023 budget by a vote of 4 to 3 with votes falling mostly along party lines. In a meeting spanning over seven hours, the county council passed its nearly $570 million budget for 2023.
“This was a particularly difficult budget. It’s the largest budget in county history,” said Councilwoman Mary Rennie, District 3.
The county will be facing about a $7 million deficit going into the new year.
“It probably ended up about $7 million out of whack and what that means is that that number will be carried into next year’s budget as well,” Rennie added.
Should county residents expect a tax increase in 2023?
“I’m happy to say that we avoided a tax increase, but on the other end of that, we owe it to people to have a balanced budget,” said Rennie.
The budget brings good news for GECAC’s Area Agency on Aging and the Summer Jobs and More program. Funding was originally in jeopardy, but Wednesday, the council voted to approve money that was initially requested.
However, funding was denied for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Commission. The majority of council members said they couldn’t approve funding given the current state of confusion surrounding the committee.
Meanwhile, the controversial funding for Project Resolve has been approved by a vote of 4 to 3.
There is $2.5 million that will come from American Rescue Plans (ARP) funds and another $2.5 million that will come from unrestricted gaming authority funds. Councilman Andre Horton said it was inappropriate to approve funding for Project Resolve with the county’s current deficit.
“And with this budget deficit, I thought it was quite a stretch to give a rich institution, such as Penn State, that type of money while we’re arguing over giving the DEIC $3 million,” said Councilman Andre Horton, District 2.
“Now that we’ve split the funding from two separate pots of money, we’ve got the council’s support, and now we get to see this project to the finish line,” said Chris Carroll, county information officer.
In other business, the council verified election results at Wednesday’s meeting.