BUFFALO, N.Y.-- The Erie County Comptroller got some harsh financial news from the state Wednesday: the county needed to pay half of the 29-million dollars owed to Erie County Medical Center by January 8th.
"The county does not have enough money to pay this bill," said Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw.
The county was on the hook for 15-million dollars, but Mychajliw says it only had about 9-million in its coffers.
"ECMC and New York State verbally agreed that they will delay the payment until March 12th as we requested," said Mychajliw.
A spokesperson for the hospital says ECMC has worked with the county in the past and was happy to do so again. He says postponing the federally required payment, which covers uninsured and underinsured patients, will not affect hospital operations.
The comptroller says the extension will give the county time to get the money.
"A big majority of property tax revenue will come into Erie County,” said Mychajliw. “We're going to receive a lot more cash come mid-February toward early March."
The chair of the county legislature says it’s not unusual for the County to be short on cash around this time of year.
"I see no problem,” said legislator Betty Jean Grant. “I know that had there been a problem, the County Executive would have notified the Legislature that we have a serious problem."
But Mychajliw says if the state and hospital hadn't been flexible, the county might not have been able to pay its employees and vendors.
"I think the County Executive, Legislature and Budget Director should take a very close look at this issue and determine are we going to have enough money the rest of the year to pay our bills," said Mychajliw.
Betty Jean Grant says if needed, the legislature could get a loan to cover any temporary shortfalls.