Now is the time to address COVID-19’s financial impacts
By Bee Group Newspapers | on May 13, 2020
Erie County Legislator
Many of us continue to face challenges related to the COVID-19 outbreak, and I hope the number of cases and hospitalizations continues to decrease for the health and safety of our community.
If this pattern continues, New York state and Erie County will begin phases of reopening and getting the economy back on track.
At the Erie County Legislature, we will be closely monitoring the county’s financial outlook. The outbreak has taken a toll on consumer spending, and we could be faced with a deficit of more than $200 million, according to a projection by the County Comptroller’s Office. Without enough help from the federal government, we could be looking at a disastrous situation.
As a result of the outbreak, Erie County residents have been stuck at home and have not been out spending money as they normally would. This is going to drastically impact our sales tax revenue, which is the county’s largest revenue source.
Since the county comptroller declared a deficit last week, the county executive was required by the charter to respond with a plan within seven days.
Unfortunately, he failed to do so. Instead, he completely ignored his obligation under the charter, and issued an executive order unilaterally giving himself another 23 days to respond. This is a disturbing overreach of power at a time we should be working together to prepare for the worst-case scenario. If we do not receive significant assistance from the federal government, we will need to have a recovery plan in place. The county executive’s action delays our deficit response planning by nearly one month. Now is the time to address the serious financial crisis we could be faced with.
We are all hoping for relief from the federal government. In the meantime, it is our job as elected leaders to plan accordingly and consider the possibility that we don’t receive a financial bailout.
My colleagues and I are asking the county executive to follow our county charter, follow the law, and immediately submit a plan to the Legislature to overcome the deficit. In a time of crisis, we should all be working together for the benefit of Erie County taxpayers.
Once again, I would like to thank all health care workers, essential employees and generous members of the community for all you’ve done during this time of need. Your work is invaluable and greatly appreciated by all.
If you have questions, comments, or concerns regarding a county-related issue or there is something my office can assist you with, please feel free to reach out to Frank.Todaro@erie.gov or call 681-2071.