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State Legislature Expected to Act on Sales Tax Increase

By Mark Wozniak and Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The State Legislature is expected to act early this week on Erie County's request to raise the sales tax by a quarter of a percent, to help deal with the $118 million county budget deficit.

Governor Pataki was in Buffalo on Friday, but he did not indicate whether or not he prefers a control board for Erie County. Nassau County on Long Island had severe fiscal problems in the late 1990s when the state imposed a control board. State Senator Dale Volker says similar state supervision may be needed to help Erie County resolve its problems, once local officials start working together.

"What happened in Nassau County is that we worked with them for months to develop a plan," Volker said. "They did the tough things that needed to be done. When we did Nassau County, we did a mild control board. That is, we gave them some money. But that was all based on the fact that they were taking care of their own problems. Erie County has not exactly done that."

Meanwhile, even if the state approves Erie County's sales tax hike request, the final vote to enact the tax may be in jeopardy. Republican Legislator Charles Swanick may change his vote because he is upset that a package of budget cuts were made by fellow lawmaker Lynn Marinelli without consulting him.