BUDGET CRUNCH CASTS DOUBT ON AID FOR HURD REFUNDS, CUOMO SAYS - The Buffalo News

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BUDGET CRUNCH CASTS DOUBT ON AID FOR HURD REFUNDS, CUOMO SAYS

Gov. Cuomo today provided little hope that Buffalo would receive state money to pay Hurd tax refunds to all city property owners from the mid-1970s.

"I have no idea, but this is going to be a very, very tough year for the (state) budget," the governor said in an interview this afternoon at Prior Aviation.

Buffalo city officials have banked on the possibility of state funds to refund an equitable amount to all taxpayers in the case that involves overtaxation by the city in the late 1970s.

The city already faces the prospect of paying anywhere from $5.5 million to $9.6 million alone in payments to the 20 property owners with tax-refund judgments.

Only through extra funding by the state have city officials held out hope that the tax refunds could be spread to all city property owners.

As evidence of the tough budget year that lies ahead, Cuomo cited State University of New York Chancellor D. Bruce Johnstone's dire predictions about the effects on SUNY campuses of Cuomo's push for fiscal restraint.

"It's not going to be an easy year," the governor said.

That stance is consistent with Cuomo's earlier hard-line position on the coming budget year.

"I want to be as clear as possible: you're going to hear a lot of nos next year and for a lot of good programs," Cuomo told a public forum last month.

On another matter today, the governor refused to tip his hand about possible appointments to the Horizons Waterfront Commission, the regional planning board formally authorized today to oversee the development of the Erie County waterfront.

It's too early to speculate on the two commission members he will appoint to the 15-member board, the governor said today.

County Executive Gorski will appoint seven members, Mayor Griffin will pick three, and the Niagara Frontier Transit Authority, County Legislature and Buffalo Common Council will choose one member each.

Cuomo also declined to say whether he would be looking for business leaders, elected officials or environmentalists in making his two commission appointments.

"We're looking for people who are competent, who are interested, who are honest and who have the confidence of their community," the governor said.

Cuomo landed in Buffalo shortly after 1 p.m. today on his way to the North Park Academy at Parkside and Tacoma, where he was scheduled to address pupils, teachers and other officials.

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