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County Government Gripped by Paralysis

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Several top officials in Erie County are now saying county government has ground to a halt. The County Legislature doesn't want to raise taxes. But legislators also seem reluctant to make any further cuts.

Last week, the word paralysis was uttered by both County Executive Giambra and Legislature Majority Leader Lynn Marinelli in describing the lack of any action. Many legislators have argued they don't have accurate numbers to make informed decisions. They're awaiting the results of an audit by State Comptroller Alan Hevesi. But that report isn't due until sometime in June. And by then, Legislator Charles Swanick says it may be too late.

Swanick, who was conspicuously absent the past month, has returned. He said he was away dealing with a family matter. But Swanick said his time away gave him an opportunity to reflect on the dire straits the county is in.

"There is nothing getting done governmentally," Swanick said. "The community is extremely divided on the issues of the day. And so time goes by for us while the rest of the country, including the area I visited, is growing and doing well."

Swanick said evidence of the divide is how some members of the public want auto bureaus re-opened, while others are saying parks should be the priority. Then there are those who don't care about services but want lower taxes. Swanick said the lack of a clear consensus from the public on what should be done may be one of the factors for the legislative paralysis.