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Governor To Sign Control Board Bill in Coming Days

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Top leaders of the Western New York delegation to the State Legislature say it will be another two to three weeks before the fiscal oversight board is put in place in Erie County.

State Assembly Majority Leader Paul Tokasz and State Senator Dale Volker say Governor Pataki will sign the bill creating the board in the next few days. For now, Volker says they're focusing on identifying prospective members for the board.

"Many of us believe that one person (on the board) should be a top flight financial person who is not from this region," Volker said.

Besides finding qualified board members, Tokasz says special care will be needed to identify the right staff members to run the board's day-to-day operations.

"It's almost more important to have the staff in place than it is to have the members of the control board," Tokasz said. "We've made the governor's office aware of that."

Tokasz says the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority was able to land former Pataki Administration budget aide, Dorothy Johnson, as its executive director. He said he'll ask Johnson to assist with the start-up of the county's oversight board.

Senator Volker said County Executive Giambra shouldn't wait for the board actual creation to start work on a four year fiscal plan.

"I think he should get a plan together with the County Legislature to get this county back on track," Volker said. "Unfortunately, we are the laughing stock of the rest of the state and the Northeast."

The seven member Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority will initially be a "soft" board, acting in an advisory capacity. But if the county's fiscal situation worsens, it will convert to a "hard" board with powers to freeze wages and approve spending.