After 3 months of the COVID-19 Crisis, Erie County Legislators are tackling a plan to close the county’s budget shortfalls today.

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The County is facing a more than $137 million deficit right now. Officials plan on balancing the budget by using savings and making a lot of cuts.

The Deputy Budget Director Benjamin Swanekamp defended the decision to cut the Children’s Special Needs division by $5 million.

“So these are actual savings that they project based on the impact of covid on their operations. so a huge part of their cost is transportation, moving children, they’ve been good doing digital remote services for quite some time,” Swanekamp said. “And they expect to continue for a while now. and because they can’t implement the services they normally would there’s going to be reductions in the number of children get services. so this isn’t us cutting them, this is their own fiscal staff saying we’re spending less than we projected.”

The County’s Social Services and Jail Management divisions will also see major cuts in this plan.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the real answer is not cutting jobs and programs, but Washington coming through to bail out state and local governments from COVID-19 and that is in discussion.

"Our county's $130 million deficit highlights why state and local governments need federal assistance," he said. "Erie County's finances were strong before the COVID-19 outbreak. Our credit rating was the highest it had been in nearly 20 years. We managed our budget well."

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