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COUNCIL DEMOCRATS WANT MORE TIME TO REVIEW CUTS

The lone Republican on the Niagara Falls City Council, Candra Thomason, attempted to cut travel costs, salary hikes and stipends from the city's proposed 2005 operating budget this week but was shot down by her four Democrat counterparts.

"I'm not ready to vote with you, Candra," said Councilman Lewis "Babe" Rotella, who asked for more time to look at the 25 cuts Thomason brought to the Council's first resolution meeting Tuesday.

Residential property taxes would rise by 6.63 percent under the $72.1 million spending plan.

Rotella had planned to ask each department head to cut a certain percentage from their individual budgets but discovered minutes before the meeting that the city's charter doesn't support such a move.

Instead, the Council must go through the budget line by line to cut items and return it to the mayor by Wednesday, with final approval needed by Dec. 15.

Most of Thomason's cuts were aimed at Mayor Vincenzo V. Anello's office, as well as her own City Council office, and many of them most likely will appear at Monday's regular Council meeting.

Thomason said if the Council works together it can scrape at least $800,000 off the total budget.

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