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Giambra Proposes $14 Million in Further Budget Cuts

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Another $14 million round of cuts is on the way. If approved, the across the board cuts could claim another 280 jobs.

When the state said no to the county's request for relief from NFTA sales tax revenue, County Executive Joel Giambra says he was left with few options. He's proposing cuts that this time would reach into Erie Community College, and deeper still into the Medical Center and virtually every other already hard-hit area.

Health Commissioner Anthony Billitier was hoping lawmakers would restore thirteen health workers Thursday. Now, he says there may be no limit to what gets taken away.

"I suppose we could cut down to me and my secretary. But people would get no public health services," Billittier said. "Obviously, that wouldn't be ideal. I really can't absorb any more cuts. But if I do, I'll cut further. If we have no money to pay our employees, we can't ask them to work for free."

Other departments face the same uncertainty. With another $2 million in proposed cuts, the Sheriff's Department could be facing a complete end to road patrols. But in a written statement Wednesdau, Sheriff Patrick Gallivan said he will not allow public safety to be compromised by politics.

Democratic Majority Leader Lynn Marinelli says the cuts may be inevitable.

"Believe me, no one here is an advocate for cuts," Marinelli said. "It would be better if we didn't have to make these. They're becoming more and more painful. But the reality is the voters sent a signal that they don't want extra taxes. So, now we have to have a balanced budget."

But Marinelli says she still isn't giving up hope that the state will change its mind on the NFTA relief -- with a little persuasion from the Governor. But she says lawmakers, literally, can't afford to wait very long to act. The $14 million gap grows each day.

The State Comptroller begins Friday to sort out the actual size of the deficit. County lawmakers meet Thursday to decide what to do next.