By PAT SHENIGO
Erie County Commissioner
Editor's note: We asked commissioners Shenigo and Tom Ferrell Jr. for columns about their endorsements in the May 2 primary for Erie County Commissioner. We received one from Shenigo.
The year 2009 brought to Erie County the worst economic storm we have faced in our generation. Commissioner Bill Monaghan has proven to posses both the leadership and fiscal responsibility that have helped us to accomplish what seemed impossible not long ago. As the economy declined, revenue fell 8 percent to just over $25 million in 2009. Unfortunately in the business of government even though your revenue is drying up, the demands on our social and criminal justice systems, programs that make up more than 66 percent of the County budget, continued to increase dramatically!
We were left with no choice but to either drastically reduce expenses, or raise taxes. Like with your own family budget, we decided that reducing expenses was the only option. Expenses were reduced from just over $30 million in 2008 to just over $25 million in 2009, a drop of almost 16 percent!
These tough economic times resulted in the commissioners having to make many very difficult decisions. Bill Monaghan has proven that he can make these complicated decisions. They are not always the popular decisions that many in the political world make to guarantee their re-election, but the right decisions for the community as a whole and for our county's future. Commissioner Monaghan's business sense has allowed us to return departments under the board to the accountability of the finance department and the commissioners' office.
We all know that while economic storm clouds hang on the horizon, there is a ray of hope in our future. Commissioner Monaghan and I are continuing to fight in Columbus and Washington D.C. for what we see as the brightest star in Erie County's future: the NASA economic development project. We remain extremely optimistic about the runway project. The U.S. 250 sewer expansion is now in progress, and with Congresswoman's Marcy Kaptur's help, the new entrance way is currently being designed. Last week, Sen. Sherrod Brown announced NASA has committed an additional $2.1 billion dollars to Glenn Research Center and PlumBrook Station.
We are all sure 2010 will continue to bring more challenges and many more sleepless nights, but I ask you the voter, for your help in letting Bill Monaghan continue to work for our future.
With all that has been accomplished, we still have much more to do. On May 4, we are not voting just for a candidate but for the future of Erie County. I ask you, the residents of Erie County, to join me in supporting Bill Monaghan for re-election.