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State legislators drop in to learn of community needs

From increasing state aid to new police car cameras, members of the local delegation to the State Legislature heard an array of needs Thursday afternoon during the Town of Tonawanda's annual meeting with the lawmakers.

"These annual meetings are especially valuable and give us good input through legislative sessions," said Assemblyman Robin L. Schimminger.

Schimminger joined State Sen. Mary Lou Rath for the meeting with Town Board members and top officials from the town's various departments. The hourlong meeting featured a mix of concerns. Homeland security funding, replacing a dilapidated bridge and sanitary sewer overflow abatement were among the issues discussed.

Town Comptroller Edward D. Mongold pointed out the town's decreasing state aid revenues. In 1987, the town received $3.9 million; it's scheduled to get $1.7 for this year.

"We are getting significantly less than we used to," he said. "When you factor in inflation, it's less than 50 percent."

Supervisor Ronald H. Moline said the total state budget has doubled since '87 but the town's share has been reduced by half.

"When the state budget was half of what it is today, we were getting treated much better," Moline said.

Schimminger said that Gov. George E. Pataki has proposed increases in revenue sharing. "We'll see what happens," he said.

Police Chief Lawrence Hoffman III described the department's outdated and broken police cameras. The department needs $60,000 to buy 14 new modern cameras as evidentiary and DWI tools and to improve the safety of officers.

"We just don't have the money in our budget to do this," he said.


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