We Deserve Better: What We Learn from Stefan's Budget Comments


Two days ago, the County Executive released a budget that cuts property taxes while adequately funding community programs like libraries and cultural organizations. Just like last year, 6 million dollars of the county’s cash reserves are earmarked to balance the budget. However, it is unlikely these 6 million will need to be used at all in 2017, and cautious spending and economic growth and strong management could make this possible for 2018 as well.

This budget, according to the Buffalo News, is “low on excitement.” But that doesn’t make it easy for the incumbent Comptroller to gain headlines. So what has he had to say about this?

Transparently dishonest, Stefan has used this run-of-the-mill, responsible document to accuse the county leadership of theft and money laundering!

Stefan is either showing his lack of financial skills to the county, or his complete lack of ethics, by somehow turning a low-excitement budget into accusations of illegality. A steady-as-she-goes budget, in his hands, is turned into a press release about trickery and magic. His public statements claim the County Executive is “essentially stealing’ by using the County’s own dollars to balance its budget.

This should concern Erie County voters, who deserve legitimate, useful feedback on the financial health of their community. But there’s more to it than that.

Stefan is willing to accuse leadership of theft and fraud over the legitimate use of 6 million of the County’s dollars. Meanwhile, he has allowed for the loss of nearly a million dollars on his watch. Let me be clear: The best case scenario here is that he was not paying attention. The worst case scenario? That he ignored the overcharge simply because Verizon contributes to Republican PACs which support the races of him and other party members.

Stefan is to Comptrollers what ambulance chasers are to legal representation. His accusations are inflammatory and baseless. His actions are irresponsible and politically motivated. And he drives fear in our community instead of useful information. Erie County, we deserve better.