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County Legislature Receives 2006 Budget, Hearings Will Be Scheduled

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The Erie County Legislature met in special session Wednesday morning to formally receive County Executive Joel Giambra's proposed budget for 2006.

The County Executive's spending plan includes a 17 percent property tax increase and a half-cent increase in the sales tax. The challenge for legislative leaders is finding the necessary ten votes to formally enact the higher sales tax.

In a meeting that lasted just a couple of minutes, the Legislature sent Giambra's proposed budget to its Finance and Management Committee. Budget hearings will now be scheduled. The committee will hear from Budget Director Kenneth Vetter and County Comptroller James Hartman Friday.

Several Republican legislators say further cuts should be made to the budget before taxes are raised. Minority Leader Michael Ranzenhofer said a hard control board is needed to impose budget reforms in the county.

Kenmore Republican Charles Swanick, who voted for a sales tax increase last year, says it's too early to say how he'll vote this time.