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Appointee raises face budget ax in Falls Anello's plan due for Council trim

Double-digit raises for eight mayoral appointees could be the first items to go when the City Council begins making changes to Mayor Vince Anello's proposed 2008 budget this week.

Several Council members said Monday they expect to trim raises Anello has proposed for top city positions and may cut new full-time positions the mayor added to the tentative budget.

Council Chairman Robert Anderson Jr. said the Council will likely vote on 30 to 40 budget changes this week. He does not expect the Council to make as many cuts as it did during the last two budget seasons, when Council members eliminated existing jobs and attempted to restructure departments.

"I don't see anything drastic as of right now," Anderson said.

Anello has proposed an $88.8 million total budget that would use state aid and other new revenue to offset a 9 percent increase in spending. Property taxes would remain about the same for residential properties and would decrease slightly for commercial and vacant land under the tentative budget.

The budget includes a pay increase for the corporation counsel, an appointed attorney who runs the Law Department, from $50,420 to $75,000. Anello also has proposed raising the city administrator's pay from $58,966 to $75,000.

Salaries for six other appointed positions would increase by more than 10 percent next year under Anello's spending plan. He has said he proposed the increases to bring the salaries in line with private-sector pay.

The proposed budget also includes new full-time jobs that would replace temporary or part-time positions in the city's parking facilities that Anello said have not been in compliance with state law.

Council members said Monday they are considering cutting the proposed pay hikes at least until Mayor-elect Paul A. Dyster takes office in January.

"No extravagant raises," said Councilman Sam Fruscione, who said he believes the Council will consider cutting about $500,000 from the budget.

Fruscione said he does not expect the Council to cut any positions that are currently filled.

The Council will meet at 4 p.m. today and Thursday in City Hall to vote on amendments to the spending plan. The budget must be finalized in December.

Several Council members said they will keep in mind that a new administration will take office in January as they finalize next year's budget.

"We're not looking to strap him in, in any negative way," Councilman Charles Walker said.

Under the city's charter, the Council has to make changes to individual budget lines -- a lengthy process that has frustrated city leaders who have wanted to make across-the-board budget cuts -- and let department heads determine what expenses should be eliminated.

"After four years of cutting spark plugs and Allen wrenches and toilet paper, when you have an $88 million budget, it's time to get serious," Anderson said. "We'll just wait for the new administration to move forward."

e-mail: djewell@buffnews.com

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