Promises Made, Promises NOT Delivered
ERIE COUNTY, NY – County Executive Candidate Mark Poloncarz’s campaign denounced the claims Chris Collins makes in his first campaign commercial, released this week. The Poloncarz campaign counters that some claims Collins makes are half-truths at best, while others are simply false.
“Collins has not, in fact, kept his promises to the taxpayers of Erie County,” said Poloncarz spokesperson Peter Anderson. “Under his reign, Collins has increased Erie County’s property taxes, decreased services, given his patronage employees significant raises and despite his boasting, we are not out of the hospital business. The past four years have not been as rosy as Chris Collins would have you believe. The taxpayers of Erie County are fed up with his inaccurate claims and demand more from their public servants.”
In Collins’ commercial entitled “Accomplishments,” he speaks the following falsehoods:
CLAIM: Erie County is out of the hospital business.
FACT: Erie County is still tied deeply to Erie County Medical Center as it (1) provides ECMC an annual subsidy of $16.2 million, (2) the workers at ECMC are still part of the county’s collective bargaining unit, and (3) the county is still legally obligated to pay more than $100 million in ECMC debt that it would be forced to pay if ECMC were to ever default.
CLAIM: Collins has kept spending increases to practically zero.
FACT: Instead of keeping spending increases to near zero, Collins has increased the county’s general fund budget by tens of millions of dollars: from $1.12 billion in 2008 (his first year in office) to over $1.2 billion in 2011. In fact, while spending has increased, he cut essential services for Erie County residents, such as libraries, probation officers and eliminated funding for rodent control. Collins has admitted he doesn’t have a library card or use libraries, but he fails to recognize that the majority of people in Erie County do. Collins also fails to recognize that the hardworking taxpayers of this county can’t afford to pay for private exterminators. The citizens of this county are depending on county government to responsibly use their tax dollars for essential services to protect the public health and improve their lives.
CLAIM: Collins has held the line on taxes.
FACT: Not only has Chris Collins raised taxes, but in 2008 he went to court to defend his attempt to raise taxes. In 2011, he ignored the legal cuts made by the Legislature, which resulted in raising an $8 million illegal property tax levy in 2011. While Collins might believe he has “held the line” on taxes, Erie County’s property taxes are higher today because of Chris Collins.
CLAIM: Parks and beaches are in the “best shape ever.”
FACT: Erie County’s parks and beaches are unfortunately far from being in the “best shape ever.” If Collins thinks this, he clearly doesn’t visit the parks and beaches other than to film his campaign commercials. Collins cut over $1 million from the parks budget, a 17.5 percent budget cut, almost all of which were park attendants and maintenance workers. By laying off the workers who do the real labor and installing his do-nothing cronies into high-level patronage positions, Collins has done little to improve the quality of our parks and beaches. Shelters are crumbling, grass isn’t being cut, trails need work and beaches are filled with pollution and trash. Only by properly funding our Parks Department can we return our beautiful parks and beaches to their former glory.
CLAIM: Chris Collins has “fixed” Erie County.
FACT: Collins has done very little to “fix” our county. He has increased property taxes, decreased services to those who need it most and slashed funding to arts and cultural groups that bring in tourist dollars. Moreover, he hoarded federal stimulus money designated for economic development in order to create fake surpluses. As a result, jobs have not returned to Erie County and Collins’ failure to stimulate our economy only shows he’s run the county like a failed Wall Street business in which the fat cats on the top make out and the rest of us have to clean up the mess left behind. The taxpayers of Erie County are smart enough to see through Collins’ falsehoods to realize that he has NOT delivered on his promises.
The Poloncarz campaign released an online ad this week entitled “Imagine” that reminds voters that Erie County’s residents deserve a County Executive who values libraries and cultural institutions, who cares about average citizens being able to balance their checkbooks, who understands being the executive means being the public’s servant, and who provides county services efficiently and responsibly – everything the current County Executive does not embody.
“It is insulting that Collins continues to claim he is not a politician when he has run for office four times now. It’s time he faced the fact, considering he has run for three different positions over a span of 13 years, he is ‘the’ definition of a career politician,” Anderson said. “As Comptroller, Mark Poloncarz has ensured that your tax dollars are spent the most efficient and responsible way possible. As County Executive, he will continue to do so – and much more – to truly improve our county.”