Erie County Legislator William A. Pauly wants to steer sales-tax revenue toward the improvement of roads.
The Amherst Republican would designate some of the receipts from the sales tax's eighth percentage point, namely the presumed growth from one year to the next. He estimates that harnessing just half of the annual growth would channel $3.5 million a year to repair, rebuild and maintain county roads.
He also wants the county to channel $10 million -- the amount currently used for debt service on the $75 million loan used to balance the 1985 budget -- to the road fund. This would occur after the payments are complete in 1994.
"We could amass a very significant amount of money to give our roads the kind of attention they require," he said. "Right now, we are taking the Band-Aid approach, and our roads are deteriorating."
The lawmaker said his proposal assumes that the county would continue the 8 percent sales tax for "the middle run."
"I don't see how we can get around continuing the 8 percent for the next five or six years," he said. "That extra penny brings us more than $80 million that we need right now."
Pauly said he came up with the idea of using a portion of the proceeds for roads after considering the many recent requests for a share of the revenue from municipalities and school districts.
"I started thinking about our spending priorities, and it dawned on me that highways are near the top of the list and deserve a steady revenue source," he said.
Although none of his colleagues has given his proposal immediate support, Pauly predicts that the idea will catch on.
County Executive Gorski, who has opposed all suggestions to divert a portion of sales tax proceeds, could not be reached to comment on the proposal.