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Cattaraugus County panel tweaks budget

The Cattaraugus County Legislature's Finance Committee made a few adjustments Thursday night while putting the final touches on the proposed $194.9 million budget draft for 2008, subtracting almost $1 million from the amount needed from taxpayers.

The budget could be adopted next week.

The committee drew $887,500 from the county's $16.7 million fund balance to put toward the Public Works Department start-up equipment replacement program. It also diverted $35,000 from a $145,000 tourism grant program that will mostly be used to boost the county's contribution to the Cattaraugus County-Olean Municipal Airport.

During committee negotiations with department heads, the city-owned airport was slated to receive $27,500 in assistance but under the new draft would receive $60,000. The $250,040 contingent fund would also receive another $2,500.

The source of those funds is ultimately the bed tax, which provides money for a tourism grant program, Finance Committee Chairman Michael T.O'Brien said. The tourism grant program provides local Chambers of Commerce with marketing grants and was set to receive $145,000 but is now in line to get $110,000.

"Let's see if we can maximize the airport's tourism revenue potential," O'Brien said after the meeting.

He said he anticipates some opposition to the proposal, however, because some Legislators don't want to spend money on the city-owned airport.

O'Brien added that the city will be asked to use the additional funds to leverage more federally funded capital improvements as was done in the past.

The Finance Committee also adjusted anticipated revenue in two areas. An increase in expected payment-in-lieu-of-taxes income will add $53,500 in revenues to the $350,000 payments to the county from unspecified sources, for a total anticipated income of $403,500.

The second adjustment is in estimated interest on debt service, with $30,000 added to the expected $150,000 income.

Actual tax rates for property owners can't be estimated until after town budgets are passed.

A request for additional funding for the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System was made by the agency's representatives but lawmakers did not offer any amendments to accommodate the request in the tentative budget.

O'Brien said the tentative budget modifications may see some opposition and next Tuesday's 3 p.m. public hearing will be a "smidgen interesting." He thanked the county staff for their work in a smooth budget preparation.

The Legislature will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday for a full committee agenda, one day earlier than usual because of the Thanksgiving holidays.

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