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County Executive Gorski wants to delay paying county workers a raise for more than three months in what he calls the first in a "series of severe austerity measures."

In a message to the County Legislature, the county executive proposed delaying the 4.75 percent increase, due to take effect Jan. 1, until April 12 to deal with a $7 million cut in state aid. The increases accumulated to that date would then be paid retroactively.

"This would help the county alleviate state aid cuts and cash shortages in the first quarter of 1991," Gorski said.

"This is a painful step," he added. "However, it is only the first in what will be a continuing series of severe austerity measures throughout 1991."

The state recently fashioned a $1 billion deficit-reduction plan that will result in a $7 million loss in revenue sharing funds to the county.

Legislature Majority Leader Leonard R. Lenihan, D-Town of Tonawanda, said the Democratic majority probably will discuss the proposal today, and the county lawmakers could take it up at Thursday's meeting.

He said the delay will give the county time to see how the state deals with its budget shortfall before the state's fiscal year ends March 31 and to react to that.

"It's unique," he said of the delay. "We're living in unusual circumstances now. There's going to be new policies put in place because of that.

"Given the situation we're in with the state in very severe fiscal distress," he continued, "a number of unusual or unique policies will probably take place over the next year or so."

The state, for example, plans to defer one week's pay for all state workers until the next fiscal year, starting April 1. Workers will receive a lump-sum payment when they leave state service for the amount they missed.

Ted Mitchell, president of Local 1095 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, could not be reached for comment.

The county and Local 1095 recently negotiated a three-year contract calling for raises of 4.75 percent, 5 percent and 5 percent. But Gorski is now asking the County Legislature to approve amending the agreement to include the delays.

County Attorney Patrick H. NeMoyer said the delay in paying the raises won't result in a loss of the additional pay, so he doesn't see a need to negotiate the delay with the union.

"If he (Gorski) was changing the condition of the contract, that's something the union would have to go back to," he said. "It's the same amount of pay. There's no loss, just a delay so we can see where the money is coming from."

"It does not change anything that was agreed to by the leadership of the union," Gorski said.

Gorski, who proposed cutting 74 jobs from the county work force in the 1991 budget, hinted that more layoffs could be in the county's future. Those would probably occur sometime early in 1991, he said.

"By stretching our resources, we will be able to preserve as many county jobs as possible and thereby maintain services," he said. "To do this we must delay wage increases and pay more modest wage increases."

The county executive has clipped more than 400 jobs from the county payroll over the past two years. The county now employs 8,000 workers.

News staff reporter Carolyn Raeke contributed to this story.

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