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Giambra Administration Cuts Vehicles and Cell Phones, Botanical Gardens Prepare for Funding Cut

By Jillian Bannister

Buffalo, NY – The Giambra administration announced details of a remedial plan Tuesdday that would save more than $120,000.

Administration officials say they're eliminating the use of 13 take-home non-emergency vehicles. In addition, 115 county cell phones will be taken out of service. They say the savings would represent one percent of the 2005 budget deficit.

Although the cuts will save money, Budget Director Joe Passafiume says there will be consequences.

"There are important assignments made on a continuous basis for people to be in contact with their superiors and supervisors. That may be now lost," Passafiume said. "Reducing 115 cell phones is not a light thing and there will be some disruption of efficient communication."

County Executive Giambra also announced Tuesday that he is postponing his annual state of the county address. It was scheduled for Thursday, February 17th at the Buffalo Convention Center. A new date has not been set. In a statement, Giambra said the address is being postponed because of the county's budget problems.

The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens will remain open but may limit hours and service due to the county's budget crisis. Renovations will also be put on hold.

Although the county provides half of the gardens' budget, the private Botanical Gardens Society is now staffing and operating the facility. Board Chairman Ed Dore says they may have to re-evaluate some programs.

"There are a number of community projects we work on, helping plant trees in community gardens, nutrition education and things like that. We are gonna have to re-evaluate some of that," Dore said. "But what will happen over the next few days is that some of our staff will volunteer some of their time to keep things going out there."

Dore said membership fees and admissions may increase, but that no employees will be laid off.