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ECMC Latest to Argue for Restoration of County Funding

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Another day at State Supreme Court ended Wednesday with Judge Joseph Makowski reserving decision on what to do about the county budget mess. The Erie County Medical Center was the latest to go before the court seeking relief from the Legislature's last round of budget cuts.

ECMC attorneys told the Judge Wednesday that the county shorted the hospital roughly $11 million in operating expenses. As proof, they pointed to a funding formula written into the statute that established the public benefit corporation.

But county attorneys, who declined comment, argued in court that ECMC is subject to the same budget process of any county entity. The Judge went so far as to consult a dictionary to help define what the word "process" means in this case. ECMC Attorney Anthony Colucci defined the hospital a vital.

"ECMC is a public entity. If one of your relatives was involved in a tragic accident, this is where that person ends up," Colucci said. "It is the only trauma center in the area. They perform a valuable public function. It's not one that you would want to eliminate from this community."

According to ECMC attorneys, on top of the operating expenses is another $18 million in capital funding. The Judge had no trouble defining this issue. He says it seems clear the county should have at least appropriated the money for the sale of the hospital. He asked for an agreement on that portion of the case.

If not, the the Judge says he will rule on that along with the temporary injunction next week.