From the Office of the County Executive
Dear Constituents:We are now into my 4th year as County Executive and my administration and I are happy to give you an update on some of the accomplishments that have occurred thus far. For the third year in a row, my administration produced a balanced budget without a tax increase. We have also refinanced outstanding debt twice during 2012 which saved taxpayers $1.8 million in future debt payments. Erie County’s bond ratings were also upgraded from AA- to AA from Standard & Poors and Aa3 to Aa2 from Moody’s. By holding both bargaining and non-bargaining positions open 30-60 days, the County saved $3.5 million in 2010 and $2.2 million in 2011. Numbers for 2012 were not available at the time of this writing.
In February, 2012, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the County of Erie as one of the recipients of a 2011 Sustainable Communities Grant in the amount of $1.8 Million. This grant is being used to develop Destination Erie: A Regional Vision, a plan for sustainable development, of which I am Chairman of the Steering Committee. Erie County is partnering with the Jefferson Educational Society, the Regional Center for Workforce Excellence, the City of Erie, and the Regional Chamber of Growth and Partnership, and the plan follows a 3 phase process to include project initiation and regional assessment, creating a vision for the future, and creating a regional sustainability action plan. This grant will help create jobs, improve housing, transportation, and economic vitality for Erie County.
The County Administration also developed a financial contribution arrangement with LECOM which provided $500,000 for two important projects that benefit all Erie County residents. Approximately $370,000 has been used towards Public Safety to purchase and install mobile data terminals in 40 fire vehicles and 63 ambulances for agencies throughout the entire county. Agencies will have instant access to pertinent information needed to respond to emergencies. LECOM has also donated a Family Learning Center at the Blasco Library which provides early learning computers and software for children and parents, in addition to replacement of all computers in the internet lab and enhancement of the on-line catalog.
We have also maintained the UPMC Hamot PILOT deal with the renewal of the agreement for another 5 years – which will result in 50% of property taxes being paid to the County. The Administration continues this pursuit with the other tax-exempt corporations in the County and is currently in discussion with St. Vincent Health Center.
My office was also a partner in the development of a tax incremental financing plan (TIF) for Lord Corporation. Lord Corporation has not only chosen to stay in Erie County and keep family sustaining wages local, but is also investing $75 million in its new facility.
Late in 2012, I announced efforts to implement term limits for the County Executive and County Council member’s seats. The goal is to have the Erie County Government Reform Initiative on the 2013 primary ballot. This is the largest referendum effort since the adoption of the Home Rule Charter, and would need 8,500 signatures to get it on the ballot. I have also created a Term Limits Committee to organize and spearhead this effort.
The administration, in partnership with the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the DEA, LECOM, and the PA Attorney General’s Office, took a proactive step to combat prescription drug abuse. The placement of Med Return Units in various locations throughout Erie County was implemented, including: the Erie County Courthouse, the Edinboro Police Department, Girard Borough Police Department and the Corry Police Department. We continue in the effort to have more Med Return Units placed in other areas of the County in 2013, including Lawrence Park and North East.
The Erie County Administration, through the Erie County Public Safety Department, pioneered an effort to transform Erie County into a “SafeTown”, by now offering a powerful, easy to use suite of web-based and mobile apps that will connect and empower local law enforcement, fire, emergency services and citizens to make Erie County a safer place to live. Citizens with special needs, handicaps, or in-home medical equipment can input their critical information to be sure that in the event of an emergency the first responders have everything they need to respond in a quick and secure way. Agencies now have the ability to post alerts to all SafeTown subscribers in the community and citizens can report non-emergency problems or suspicious activity. Real time events and crime history can be viewed on a map by any SafeTown user and is updated in real time.
As you can see, my administration continues due diligence to ensure that the best interests of the more than 280,000 Erie County residents are taken into account. My office and administration continues to work on a daily basis to keep this forward momentum going and secure a positive future for the residents in Erie County to live, work, and thrive in this community.