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Erie County Officials Wrestle With 2007 Budget

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The clock is ticking once again in what could be another tense budget approval season for Erie County officials. WBFO's Joyce Kryszak has more on the budget that is nearing an early December deadline under the shadow of another lawsuit.

The Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority now has hard control over the county's finances. And that means the control board will be waiting anxiously for lawmakers to make changes to County Executive Joel Giambra's proposed budget for 2007.

A hiring freeze is already in place. So, lawmakers could be looking at cutting the extra 89 positions proposed by Giambra. For now, the County Executive said he is reserving judgement on what lawmakers do.

But to meet his approval, Giambra said the budget will have to meet the test of what he called, "reasonableness."

Those changes would have to likewise be reasonable to the control board. They now have the final say over the county's pocketbook. Concerns have also been raised over capital spending and sales tax projections.

But the County Executive has not accepted the control board's new authority. And Giambra said he might still ask a judge to decide just how much the board has to say about the budget.

But the control board is moving ahead. Members say they are working with lawmakers to reach an agreement on the budget The original proposed budget will be presented for public hearing at 5:00 PM Monday in county hall. Then on Wednesday afternoon, lawmakers will present their amendments to that plan. By law, a final budget must be approved the first week of December.