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Erie County Chief Backs Control Board

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Erie County Executive Joel Giambra did an abrupt about-face Thursday, asking that the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority be allowed to do the county's borrowing for 2007. But the county legislature must also sign off.

$51 million of capital borrowing has been on hold, including projects for the zoo and road repair, as the control board and county officials squabbled over who could do it cheaper.

County officials have said that the control board loses any savings advantage from a better bond rating after the cost of their annual roughly three-quarters of a million dollar budget is factored in. The board would have to oversee the 30-year life of the bond. But Giambra said the board is here to stay anyhow.

If approved, the move would also pave the way for the county to complete a multi-million dollar tax lien sale needed to balance the 2007 budget. The control board agreed to approve the sale only if allowed to do future borrowing. Giambra says the sale secures money for the culturals and tourism.

Erie County Legislature Chairwoman Lynn Marinelli said lawmakers need to see details of the borrowing proposal before taking a vote. But she acknowledged that a lot is riding on the decision and that there are few options with a hard control board in place.

According to Giambra, the actual size and specifics of the capital borrowing hinge on closing the tax lien sale. So, lawmakers would have to give approval before seeing the final cost.

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