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IMPACT OF REDUCED STATE AID WORRIES UNITED WAY AGENCY SAYS NIAGARA FALLS HUMAN SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS COULD LOSE $4 MILLION

Cuts in aid to municipalities proposed by Gov. Cuomo to close the state budget gap would have a "devasting long-range impact" on several agencies served by the United Way of Niagara, according to United Way officials.

An estimated $4 million in losses would affect service agencies for the handicapped and developmentally disabled, said Joseph J. Marino, United Way president.

"In addition, agency programs dealing with teen-age pregnancy, drug substance abuse and domestic violence would be all but eliminated," he said.

The largest impacts, estimated by Marino, include:

$2.2 million, Niagara Falls Family YMCA, including a $2 million grant sought to renovate 58 residency rooms at the Portage Road facility.

$1.4 million for Family and Children's Services.

$500,000 for Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara (formerly the Association for Retarded Children).

$209,000 for the Niagara Falls Chapter, American Red Cross.

"If the governor's proposed cuts were to be enacted, the result would be devastating locally," added John W. Kinner, United Way vice president. "We realize these are just proposals, but people are looking at the situation very seriously because the impacts would carry on through 1992.

"If the cuts become real we will experience difficulties," said Arthur E. Eberhart, associate executive director of the Family YWCA. The YWCA serves 4,000 to 5,000 people each year with an annual budget of $1.4 million, he said.

Besides the possibility of not getting the state grant for renovations, Eberhart said other cutbacks might include:

$50,000 sought for renovation of the second-floor recreational and other facilities.

$50,000 to continue the Y's Niagara Knights midnight basketball program for disadvantaged youth.

$66,000 for operating a teen center and the LaSalle Facility on 80th Street.

Gerald J. Kozak, executive director of Family and Children's Services, said cuts at that agency would affect major state-requested programs that have increased the agency's annual budget to about $2 million from about $500,000 a few years ago. The programs receive about 70 percent state funding.

Such programs include:

The shelter for abused women, which has an annual budget of $150,000 and is serving 13 women.

The child runaway program, which has a budget of $100,000 and annually serves 200 youth.

The intensive crisis service for seriously mentally disturbed people, with a budget of $200,000 and serving 40 people.

The case management program for persons with psychiatric problems, which has a budget of $700,000 and 450 clients.

Marino has called upon State Sen. John B. Daly, R-Lewiston, and Assemblymen Matthew J. Murphy, D-Lockport, and Joseph T. Pillittere, D-Lewiston, to consider a number of recommendations the United Way feels would lessen impending financial cuts to the agencies. The recommendations include a "prompt contracting bill" as part of the budget review package to ensure that at least the diminished funding levels get to the voluntary agencies on time and a willingness by the Legislature to revisit the issues raised by the cuts.

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