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Legislature Democrats Reduce Patronage Jobs, Restore Crucial Positions

By Joyce Kryszak and Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The Erie County Legislature, by party line votes of eight to seven Friday, approved $3.7 million in changes to County Executive Giambra's "red" budget.

The Legislature's Democratic majority presented a series of amendment packages that slashed 100 patronage positions plus employee cell phones and take-home vehicles. Savings from those cuts were used to restore 117 positions in public safety, health and revenue generating departments.

But legislators were unable to make enough budget changes to restore all library and arts funding.

Legislative leaders say there are still not enough votes to approve a penny increase in the county sales tax to prevent the remaining cuts from being implemented.

Talks are likely to continue between legislative leaders and the Giambra administration through the weekend. The Legislature has until Tuesday to formally adopt the county's 2005 budget.