Financial documents show county officials collected $1.14 million less in 2013 versus 2008 when analyzing five major income sources.
These five sources account for about 80 percent of Erie County’s $26 million everyday operating budget, coined the general fund. The general fund subsidizes various services, including sheriff, court and maintenance operations.
Officials blamed drops in revenue on the Great Recession of 2008, crippling both the housing and stock markets, along with state officials scaling back on funding given to local governments.
Among the most notable drops in revenue in 2013 compared to 2008: n County-based property taxes down $621,000. n Local government funds down $1.08 million. n Investment income — low-risk, low-yield, pre-approved bonds and CDs to create a revenue stream
— down $1.79 million. Despite declining revenues, county officials have still produced a surplus in each year since 2009.
To do so, commissioners implemented across-the-board cuts in most departments and halted all major projects, such as constructing water and sewer lines. These types of projects only occurred if officials could find money in the general fund without borrowing anymore cash.
It’s a stark change from 2008, when revenues peaked and spending spun out of control.
In 2008, the general fund ballooned to $30 million, a 13 percent increase compared to the $26 million annually spent today.
Income, however, only countered at $27.5 million, creating about a $2.5 million year-end deficit in 2008.
The county’s debt also reached to a record $116 million five years ago.
But now, because commissioners Bill Monaghan and Pat Shenigo scrutinize each major purchase order, the county’s spending levels have significantly decreased, jibing with plunging revenue levels.
“We made downward adjustments to the expense side of the general fund budget that have allowed us to manage these losses,” Erie County commissioner Pat Shenigo said.