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Despite some concerns, Edwards doesn't veto budget

Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards has decided not to veto the 2008 budget recently approved by the County Legislature.

Edwards had until the end of the business day Monday to make that decision.

Lawmakers approved an amended $201.4 million spending plan last month in a veto-proof 20-5 vote, with some Republicans crossing party lines to embrace the budget.

Edwards said this was the main factor behind his decision, although he still has several major concerns about the amended budget.
"The Legislature did vote to increase spending by a little over $750,000 from my budget and made a couple other decisions that wouldn't be what I was for. But their vote was by a majority, and I was assured by the majority that they would override my veto."

The budget lowers the tax levy to $56.4 million and the tax rate to $8.78 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down from the current $8.95 per $1,000.

The tax rate proposed by Edwards was $8.87 per $1,000.

Edwards said about $750,000 was taken from the undesignated fund balance to restore half the cuts made to the Sheriff's Office. He also is concerned about an additional $250,000 in cuts made to the Department of Public Facilities -- which had been cut severely in Edwards' budget proposal.

Keith Ahlstrom, County Legislature chairman, said Tuesday he is encouraged by Edwards' decision not to veto the budget.
Ahlstrom said the budget will provide relief for county property owners.

"I believe this is good news for all the taxpayers in Chautauqua County, and we can move into our 2008 year with a balanced budget that has delivered a significant amount of tax savings for our constituents."

Ahlstrom said he was pleased that Edwards "saw fit" to allow the changes that the Legislature made nearly two weeks ago.

The current budget is $204.8 million.

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