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Erie County Capital Borrowing Still Not Off the Ground

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The battle rages on between Erie County officials over how much, if any money should be borrowed for capital projects.

This week, letters are being tossed back and forth with each side defending its position.

The Giambra administration is still pushing for about $22 million in borrowing. Lawmakers offered a $12 million dollar compromise. The county's Fiscal Stability Authority said no more than that.

Ken Vetter is the former county budget director and the new executive director of the control board. He said there is no financial justification for more borrowing when there is cash in hand.

The comments were prompted by a letter sent to lawmakers earlier this week from new budget Director Jim Hartman. Ironically, Hartman is taking the opposing position of the man he replaced.

Hartman, who was formerly director of management initiatives, said the four- year plan and credit rating depend on keeping those surpluses.

He said the county's debt level was not a factor in the credit ratings.

Legislature Chairwoman Lynn Marinelli said the point is that the county doesn't need to borrow so much.

Still, Marinelli acknowledges that the legislature will have to end the stalemate. But she said they may only end up approving the roughly $7 million of legally mandated projects.

The finance and management committee meets Thursday.