Thursday The Buffalo News published a letter to the editor from Legislator Lynne Dixon's general election opponent, Michael Schraft. The challenger has little chance at unseating the popular incumbent, which explains why his campaign has resorted to taking cheap shots from the cheap seats.
His letter references the county's needs for additional infrastructure spending and specifically mentions a news article from August 13th that quoted Lynne Dixon "five times." His letter is so full of inaccuracies, it shocks me that the Buffalo News, an outlet that extensively covered all of the things he references, even published it.
For fun, let's address his letter piece by piece.
"Unfortunately, the Republican caucus proposal to deplete the transfer tax surplus fund would do little to solve the long-term issues surrounding our county's aging infrastructure."
First, it's important to mention that Lynne Dixon is not a Republican. She is an Independence Party member, running for re-election on the Independence, Republican and Conservative Party lines. Calling her a Republican is like calling her colleagues Lynne Marinelli and Tom Mazur Conservatives, because they have ran for office on that line as well. She is also not a member of the Republican Caucus, and according to the online version of the County's charter, that organization doesn't appear to exist. She is, however, a member of the Minority Caucus, which includes legislators from 3 parties.
For those not in the know, whenever you purchase a home in Erie County, you are charged a "transfer tax" at the time of sale. Those funds are designated to be spent on roadwork and infrastructure repairs, and by law cannot fund anything else. If the account has a surplus, the County Executive is violating the spirit of the law by refusing to do roadwork. As a homeowner who paid the tax, it's offensive that it is not being spent, and I agree with Legislator Dixon. If the government is going to charge me, or you, for buying a home, and claim it's because they need money to keep our roads in good repair, they should spend the money on the roads!
Also, claiming that spending the money would do little to address long-term issues is stupid. The county normally has the smallest percentage of investment for infrastructure projects, and that investment can trigger State and Federal dollars to aid the project. Spending $1 million additional on roadwork, can in some cases yield $10 million more from state, federal and other agencies.
"Her caucus approved a county budget the county executive did not support. Among the amendments her coalition approved was pork for a parochial organization in Amherst and restoring a patronage job in the Comptroller's Office."
The budget was approved by a quad-partisan coalition of legislators representing every political party in the legislature. They worked together to approve the budget because they wanted to prevent a tax increase, and they were successful.
Legislator Dixon did support restoring a job in the Comptroller's office, because she felt it was important. The job was for Greg Gach, a former Budget Director under County Executive Chris Collins. He was working as the County's Director of Accounting Services. This position is fairly prominent in the office, and was previously held by County Executive Mark Poloncarz's Budget Director, Bob Keating.
Lastly, if the County Executive didn't support the budget, why didn't he veto the changes the legislators made?
"Not a single additional penny, however, was added to infrastructure improvements."
This gets the buzzer, for sure. Even Poloncarz runs around town saying the County is spending more money on road work this year than any year in recent memory.
"The Erie County Legislature held a hearing, the purpose of which was "to consider the appropriation from the Erie County Road Repair Reserve Fund for road and bridge repairs." Although the hearing was held in the same building as her office, Dixon did not attend."
I inquired as to why Dixon did not attend and was told she was at a funeral. I was also told that the only attendees were Legislators John Mills (R) and Joe Lorigo (C).
"I propose Erie County have a funding source dedicated to infrastructure repairs, and not simply budget for it annually out of the general and capital budgets."
They already do. It is the transfer tax fund, and Lynne Dixon proposes that they spend it on roadwork. Now. Because it's the law.