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JUDGE TO END BUDGET SNARL BY MAY 13

A judge said Wednesday he will decide by May 13 how to handle funding disputes from the Erie County budget crisis that involve three county departments.

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph G. Makowski gave his tentative schedule after a three-day hearing on the county clerk's budget. The other disputes involve the offices of the sheriff and the county comptroller.

Makowski previously ruled that County Clerk David J. Swarts, who is seeking a court-ordered restoration of $570,608 to rehire staff for the rest of this calendar year, has established that his case deserves consideration.

Wednesday, Makowski began a hearing on Sheriff Patrick M. Gallivan's budget request. He has scheduled hearings for next week to deal with funding issues affecting the operations of County Comptroller Nancy A. Naples.

In closing arguments, Giambra administration attorney Kenneth W. Africano told Makowski that Swarts "has to stop fighting the reality of the situation" and join other county department heads in repositioning his staff to deal with increased workloads.

But Richard T. Sullivan, attorney for Swarts, said the clerk has been forced to shut down three of the four county auto bureaus and is already a month behind in filing court and other legal documents and dealing with pistol permits, which are mandated by the State Legislature.

Originally allocated $2.74 million for this year, the clerk's budget was cut by $1.1 million.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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