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Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority Retains Advisory Role For Now

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Erie County still doesn't have a hard control board. But that decision Thursday from the County's Fiscal Stability Authority may be only a temporary reprieve. If lawmakers fail to act, Control Board Chairman Ned Regan says the vote on a "hard" board will be back on the table again at their next meeting November 14th.

Regan says lawmakers must pass a budget for next year, with the votes needed for any tax hike, and at least some reforms.

"We're not going to implement a "hard" control board today," Regan said. "But there is full intention among enough members of this group to implement one if behavior doesn't change. It's as simple as that."

Regan also chastised county legislators for their criticism of financial consultants from the PFM Group. Lawmakers have questioned the high fees PFM charged for its services. But Control Board Vice Chair David Campbell said PFM was well worth it.

"You couldn't have gotten it any cheaper. I truly believe that," Campbell said. "I think those guys did a good job. The Governor, when he was here, said they did an excellent job in Nassau County, saving millions of dollars. They'll do the same thing here when all is said and done."

County legislators were scheduled to meet with consultants from PFM Friday to discuss some of the cost-saving initiatives under consideration. Lawmakers will then vote on the 2006 budget, and the revised four year plan, next Thursday -- after the elections.