Check out this BuffNews editorial:
By purposely omitting a $16 million liability from his proposed budget and still presenting the document as balanced, Erie County executive Chris collins has demonstrated a troubling disregard for ethical budgeting practices as well as the public trust.
Indeed, by deliberately misleading legislators, the control board and the public on a matter of finance, Collins has undermined his own assertive style. Collins is supposed to run the county like a business, but omitting expenses from a critical legal document doesn’t meet that test. As an unpolitician, he is supposed to be immune from pressures that can cause traditional officeholders to play fast and loose with taxpayers. Yet that is what he has done.
Collins explains that he’s trying to negotiate the liability away. But he hasn’t yet. So it’s still there and should be on the books.
The county Comptroller called it a “serious breach”. Collins calls Poloncarz “chicken little” for having the gall and nerve to do his job as the people’s financial watchdog.
Collins, who is more a politician than he lets on, thought he’d just keep the Comptroller out of the loop.
More recently, Collins hid from Poloncarz the fact the county owes ECMC $16 million in Medicaid-related charges and that he’s bargaining with the hospital to forgive the payment because the county provides it with other support.
“The comptroller cannot be trusted to maintain any confidence,” Collins explained.
Countered Poloncarz: “As the chief financial officer, our office has to be involved, whether he likes it or not.”
By design, the comptroller provides an independently elected set of eyes over the county’s books. But the county executive and comptroller also are to work in tandem.
County Government. Is there anything it can’t do?