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County Executive Seeks Control Board, Legislature Cuts $4 Million

Erie County Executive Joel Giambra
Erie County Executive Joel Giambra

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The acrimonious relationship between Erie County Executive Joel Giambra and the County Legislature continues to deepen.

Lawmakers met Thursday and passed a small round of budget cuts, after a spirited debate on both sides of the aisle. But there was no talk about raising the sales tax, which Giambra says is necessary to close the shortfall. Some legislators say they no longer trust Giambra's budget data, and they will not support a sales tax hike.

Giambra criticized the Legislature of "an acute case of political paralysis." Giambra will now ask Albany for a state control board to oversee county finances.

The Legislature trimmed $3.9 million from the current spending plan on Thursday. Democratic Majority Leader Lynn Marinelli says for now this is the best they can do. But some consider that amount a drop in the bucket as the county faces a potential $113 million shortfall.

But Marinelli said she refuses to consider a control board. She says it is up to County Executive Giambra to come up with a package of cuts for the Legislature to consider.

The nearly $4 million in cuts does not affect the Erie County Medical Center or ECC. It does however cut into vacant positions in the Social Service department.

In other action, lawmakers also gave the okay for another round of short-term borrowing. They approved $80 million in bonds.