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LEGISLATURE ADOPTS 1991 NIAGARA BUDGET SPENDING PLAN INCLUDES A BUFFER AGAINST ANTICIPATED CUTS IN STATE AID

The County Legislature late Tuesday adopted a 1991 budget after cutting departmental requests by $954,774 to establish an escrow fund to act as a buffer to anticipated state aid cuts.

The Legislature's unanimous vote came shortly before midnight. The spending plan is expected to "exceed slightly" the tentative $167 million budget drawn up by Budget Director Anthony J. Restaino.

Restaino said that after final tabulations are completed today the new budget will be more than 10 percent higher than this year's $152 million.

It will carry an average tax rate of $8.59 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a 6-cent decrease from this year's $8.65 rate. However, the county's property tax base increased by 7 percent to $41,346,564.

The county, Legislator Ronald L. Perry, R-Newfane, Finance Committee chairman, said, will be able to "dip into" the $954,774 escrow fund to make up for specific losses in state aid.

He earlier had estimated the county could lose more than $626,000 in state aid.

The Legislature also applied $4.5 million of the county's $7 million 1990 surplus to meet the needs of some departments.

"After the tentative budget was prepared and we were faced with state aid cuts, we asked the department heads to reconsider their requests and cut them by 2 percent. Some were able to, others were not because of the nature of programs they administer, so these (the reductions) do not represent across-the-board cuts. We are just reducing (specific) expenditures," Perry said.

In voting on specific items, the Legislature also cut two full-time and six part-time jobs from 32 new jobs included in the tentative budget.

Despite the urging of Legislators John P. Oates and Laurence M. Haseley, the Legislature, in a 17-2 vote, rejected deleting a 5 percent pay raise for legislators, a 4.8 percent raise for the Legislature's majority and minority leaders and a 2.7 percent hike for the Legislature chairman.

The legislators will now receive $12,075 a year, up $575; the majority and minority leaders, $12,575 each, up $575, and the chairman, $15,075, up $400.

The Legislature also:

Authorized $120,000 in the new budget for a new fire tower for training exercises by volunteer fire companies.

Approved a food service and dietary management contract with Canteen Corp. of Buffalo to serve the Mount View Health Facility in the Town of Lockport. The one-year pact calls for Canteen to receive up to $81,952 for service and $15,000 as a management fee.

Authorized $20,000 to allow the North Tonawanda Fire Department to purchase two automatic defibrillators and other emergency support equipment.

Approved $50,000 to begin renovating a portion of the interior of the County Courthouse.

Approved a "onetime" $15,000 expenditure "for promotion and support" of boat racing events in the Niagara River adjacent to Gratwick-Riverside Park in North Tonawanda. The payment is contingent on approval of the park area for the events by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Authorized District Attorney Peter L. Broderick to use $47,968 in Stop-DWI fines to hire two additional assistants at $23,984 a year to step up the prosecution of drunken drivers.

Amended the county Ethics Code to require the filing of financial disclosure forms with the state by all elected officials, department heads, their deputies and assistants and all others in county government associated with policy making.

Accepted the resignation of Joseph N. Williams from the $38,588-a-year post of as transportation director for personal reasons.

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