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Blame Game Continues over Resolving County Budget Crisis

By Mark Scott & Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Another round of the blame game is underway in Erie County government.

County Executive Joel Giambra Monday once again called on the County Legislature to take substantive action in closing a $60 million deficit in the current year's budget. He expressed frustration that lawmakers have so far been unwilling to approve either a new revenue source or corresponding cuts.

But Legislature Majority Leader Lynn Marinelli says such criticism is unfair.

"It's being characterized that the Legislature is not acting. We've been acting all year," Marinelli said. "Most recently, we did another $4 million in cuts on top of the millions and millions that have already been cut out of this budget.

"We need to make sure where the monitoring is to make sure the administration is doing what it was asked to do by this Legislature."

Meanwhile, County Legislator Al DeBenedetti of Buffalo has a proposal to help close the deficit. The state is cutting its sales tax rate by a quarter percentage point on June 1 as it eliminates the increase instituted in 2003.

DeBenedetti says the county should use that opportunity to raise its sales tax rate by the same quarter percentage point, keeping the total sales tax rate unchanged, but steering an additional $30 million a year to the county.