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Cattaraugus Legislature OKs $194.9 million spending plan

The Cattaraugus County Legislature met briefly Wednesday and approved a $194.9 million spending plan for 2008.

Lawmakers turned aside a last-minute bid to add $10,000 to the county's library funding. That effort was headed by Howard D. "Bud" Zollinger, C-Randolph, and Norman L. Marsh, R-Little Valley. All of the other 18 legislators present voted against amending the proposed spending package.

The Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System will receive $85,524 from the county in 2008, the same as the 2007 appropriation that saw curtailed bookmobile service in the Olean area. The library system had requested $105,911 for the year. Several lawmakers spoke against the request.

But the plan includes additional funding for the Cattaraugus County-Olean Municipal Airport, part of the Finance Committee's recommendations.

Before that time the city-owned airport was in line to receive $27,500 but will now receive $60,000 after $35,000 was diverted from a $145,000 tourism grant fund. A small portion of that, $2,500, will be sent to the contingency fund.

Kenneth W. "Bucky" McClune, D-Salamanca, voted against the Finance Committee's recommendations and the airport funding package, repeating his long-standing objection to any airport subsidies that are not backed by donations from the corporate airport users.
Legislators heard statements from two speakers during a public hearing preceding the vote.

Wendy Krzemian of New Albion asked the Legislature to keep spending increases in line with inflation rates, noting families aren't able to demand pay increases in the same manner that the county demands larger tax payments from property owners.

Clara Ramadhan, a juvenile probation officer and president of the CSEA Local 805, was unable to gather support for new positions. She cited safety concerns in the lack of increased funding for additional Probation Officers. She also pointed out that her department stands to lose another probation officer position when grant funding is depleted next year.

The decision to divert $887,500 from a $16.7 million surplus account, along with the planned use of some surplus and some casino funds will slightly reduce the taxpayer levy. The percentage increase in the tax levy was approved at 4.27 percent, with a levy of $42,970,000.

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