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Giambra Budget Monitoring Report Projects $60 Million Deficit

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Erie County Executive Joel Giambra released the budget monitoring report for the first three months of 2005 Wednesday, projecting a $60 million deficit for the year. The amount differs from the roughly $113 million the county comptroller is forecasting.

County legislators have repeatedly asked for monthly reports to get a handle on the scope of the county's debt. A local law was recently passed, requiring the reports be submitted on time. Giambra says the reports were late, because the budget was late. But he says earlier reports wouldn't have made the news any better.

The County Executive says the Legislature must act to close the gap -- and he says that will have to mean new revenue.

"I'm convinced at this point that there is no way possible to reduce spending in county government in the amount of $60 million unless you're prepared to shut the doors," Giambra said. "It can't be done."

Giambra will send lawmakers a resolution laying out four options -- further reductions, deficit borrowing, begging Albany or raising the sales tax. But Giambra says the sales tax is the only realistic option.