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A Dedicated Fund for Parks and Culturals

Filed under: Erie County

This week I wrote about the need for dedicated county funding for parks and cultural institutions.

The Erie County property tax rate is lowest of any county in the State of New York. The price today is about $5 per thousand of assessed value—$2/thousand lower than when Dennis Gorski left in 2000. Even if we had to ask Erie County legislators to “raise” the tax, the price tag for the average homeowner would be $8 per month in order to preserve libraries, parks, culturals, and tourism. That would still be $8 per month less than what most homeowners were paying in 2000.

Today, $200 million is the amount collected by the Erie County property tax levy.

Here’s what the quality-of-life services cost in Erie County:

Library costs $22m, parks $6m, culturals $6, miscellaneous (Cornell Coop Extension, Taste of Buffalo) $1m. Total $35 m. Add Cthe Convention and Visitors Bureau and you get $40m, or 20% of the property tax levy.

If your house is assessed at $300,000 that means County taxes are $1,500, which means that $300 a year of your current bill is what is currently spent on these services. If this were a surcharge on your County property tax, the monthly cost to you in your $300,000 house would be under $25.

But the median-value house in Erie County is $100k, so $100 a year keeps it all going. That’s the price tag today. For about $8 a month, you get to have a Philharmonic, art galleries, theaters, Olmsted parks, Chestnut Ridge, the Riverwalk, forest preserves, Bennett Beach, the Botanical Gardens and various festivals, to name just a few of the things that we now enjoy.

If you paid $10 a month, we’d be able to have a historic preservation fund and a capital-projects fund too, so that we could build more bike paths, nature preserves and public art.

What I proposed while deputy county executive was to create a regional asset fund, administered by a board that reports to the executive.

The County Legislature could pass a law to dedicate a percentum of the property tax levy to this function.


  • -j.

    Can I pay 5 bucks more a month, and have a library that supports North Buffalo? Please? Ms. Marinelli, can you hear me?

  • azart310

    Save McCarley Gardens. Stop UB’s negotiations to buy McCarley Gardens and evict 150 low-income families in order to promote gentrification and the abandomment of the South Campus. Stop the urban bulldozer. Stop victimizing minorities and the poor.