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County Legislature Approves Massive Budget Cuts

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – By a vote of ten to four Thursday afternoon, the Erie County Legislature closed a $108 million deficit in the 2005 county budget.

The package of cuts approved by lawmakers are across the board, affecting every department of county government. But the number of layoffs is still up in the air. Legislators gave department heads 72 hours to come up with a list of job cuts.

The four legislators who voted against the cuts were Republicans Michael Ranzenhofer, Elise Cuszak and Denise Marshall and Democrat Timothy Kennedy. Democrat Al DeBenedetti was absent.

The three Republicans were criticized by some Democratic lawmakers as being irresponsible for voting against both the sales tax increase and the cuts. The Republicans say more time should have been given to the budget cutting process.

Legislative leaders were scheduled to present their package of cuts to State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Makowski, who is hearing several lawsuits that challenge this year's budget.