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Lockport facing financial crisis

Photo by Chr

To help close a large deficit, Lockport Mayor Anne McCaffrey says the city will end its ambulance service next month. State auditors blame poor record keeping for the city's financial problems.  A new report released Wednesday by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says Lockport will soon run out of cash and end the year more than $4 million in the red. DiNapoli says accounting records were so poor city officials were kept in the dark about the severity of the fiscal problem.

Mayor Anne McCaffrey says the problem goes back three or four years.  She says she's working with the council to restructure the treasurer's office.   

"Looking at proper people in the proper positions with credentials that would guarantee effective accounting procedures," McCaffrey said.

To address the comptroller's concerns with overtime costs McCaffrey says the city is in the process of getting out of the ambulance business.

"We have private companies that provide ambulance services all over Western New York. And very few municipalities are in the ambulance business any longer simply because it is not affordable to do so," she said. "So we'll be joining the ranks of the other communities that see the prudence in having a private company provide that."  
The change, McCaffrey says, should save about $400,000 annually. She says it's too soon to say if a tax increase will be needed to end Lockport's fiscal crisis.