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County Legislature Approves Re-Opening of Two County Golf Courses

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Golfers can get their clubs polished up for the season. Erie County lawmakers Thursday voted unanimously to reopen the Elma Meadows and Grover Cleveland Golf Courses.

It's good news for golfers and for 15 park employees. The workers will be back on the greens by Monday. Six of the workers will take what union officials called "significant pay cuts," and some seasonal, non union workers will be allowed to perform low pay jobs.

Lawmakers say those concessions, plus a fee increase made it an easy decision. Lawmaker Tim Wroblewski brokered the deal.

"We are not taking any money from any other parts of the budget," Wroblewski said. "We're not robbing Peter to pay Paul. It will be 100 percent budget neutral."

Lawmakers took turns supporting the plan, saying the vote is not an expression of their priorities. Lawmaker Demone Smith voted for it. But he also wants to see another auto bureau opened. A plan to do that, reportedly also revenue neutral, is on the table. Smith says they need to approve it now.

"We can't wait until the summer months when people start tearing down the walls," Smith said. "People are having to take a day off from work and stand in line at that hot DMV."

County Executive Joel Giambra says he'll have a plan next week to restore one DMV, as well as some probation officers and to open the parks.

To help prevent future budget messes, legislators also passed laws requiring a charter review and that the budget be submitted by October 15th. Democratic Majority Leader Lynn Marinelli says that's obviously needed.

"In past years when budgets have been good, having a one month window proved to be adequate. In fact, a lot of the time, the budgets were being done in three weeks," Marinelli said. "But times like this that we just witnessed, you need a little more time."

One mistake made in the hasty budget process was the elimination of daycare in Social Services. The program, which is 100 percent federally funded, was restored Thursday.