Share this article

print logo

Matthew Spina

I'm a staff writer at The Buffalo News and a graduate of SUNY Buffalo State who grew up in the great town of Schenectady, N.Y.


The worst of Erie County government's fiscal crisis will be averted with the lifting of a $50 million burden for this year, officials said.While problems still loom for 2005, Erie and other counties across New York will enjoy a gift from Albany: no payment to the pension fund this year.For Erie County, a year-end deficit once projected at $70 million should fall to about $…

Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra's driver was issued a Probation Department pistol to protect his boss nine months ago, though he never received the agreed-upon training or noted the gun on his pistol permit.Victor Getz, Giambra's $81,000-a-year driver and senior assistant, said through a county executive's spokesman that he plans to take the training soon and would c…

The sale of Buffalo's water system to the Erie County Water Authority inched forward Thursday as the authority agreed to some needs insisted upon by the city Water Board.The authority unanimously agreed to spend $15 million a year on capital improvements to the city system until the two networks become one, within about 10 years. The authority had agreed to that figure in …

Officials for two leading bond-rating agencies say the Erie County government needs to raise taxes or cut spending over the long term to pull itself out of the structural problem that leads to deficits and jeopardizes credit ratings."Their financial position overall is generally stressed," said Jessalynn Moro, the senior director at Fitch Ratings in New York City who track…

Democrats on the Erie County Legislature have balked at the Giambra administration's request to lay off 85 of the county's 7,000 workers as one step in dealing with this year's budget problem and to avoid a budget disaster in 2005.The Democrats on Thursday agreed to freeze spending on travel and supplies and to keep several positions vacant, but they said County Executive …

The Erie County Legislature's on-again, off-again series of meetings to examine midyear budget problems is off again. It was shut down Tuesday by Legislature Chairman George A. Holt Jr. after a key lawmaker failed to smooth a rift with County Executive Joel A. Giambra and his staff."I think it's a personality issue there, and I'm not going to be in the midst of that," said…

The big charts were in place and the first Power Point slide was in focus, ready for a presentation by the Giambra administration Friday about the disastrous effects of Medicaid on the county's bottom line.Then, faster than you can say "been there, done that," the charts were down, the easels were pushed aside and the projector was unplugged so that a legislature committee…

Erie County will pay up to $200,000 for a consultant to assess the security at county government facilities and recommend ways to make them less vulnerable to terrorism.County lawmakers Thursday agreed to let the Giambra administration pursue a contract with SecuraComm Consulting of Pittsburgh, which designs security programs for commercial and industrial buildings, corpor…

Erie County's money problems for 2004 are worse than the Giambra administration has indicated, some county lawmakers said Wednesday as they urged budget makers to assume a worst-case scenario for the rest of the year to avoid a catastrophic property tax increase in 2005.Lawmakers from both parties compared this year to the crisis of 1984-85, when the County Legislature add…

Just weeks after agreeing to maintain Buffalo's parks, Erie County is ready to spin off one of its own, the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens.Erie County wants to pay the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens Society $450,000 a year to care for the gardens, which encompass 11.4 acres on South Park Avenue. The gardens, inside the historic South Park, went from city …

A firm owned by a director of the Erie County Medical Center and employing the center's former chief executive officer won a contract last month to counsel county employees, including those at the medical center."I believe there is a major conflict of interest," Joan Bender, executive vice president of Local 815, Civil Service Employees Association, and head of the union a…

Erie County ran $10 million in the red during the first three months of this year, the Giambra administration will tell lawmakers this week as it proposes laying off 85 workers, freezing $3.4 million in expenses and keeping many positions vacant.Union leaders will fight the layoffs, which involve nurses, clerks, stenographers and technicians. County legislators, who have b…

Nearly 500 more young people in Erie County would have jobs this summer if the state restores money to an employment program that began Thursday, Erie County lawmakers said Friday, urging the State Legislature and Gov. George E. Pataki to return to Albany to complete a budget.The program puts poor and disadvantaged young people, ages 14 to 21, to work for six to eight week…

A team of specialists has been called in to rid Erie County's emerging public safety center on Elm Street of the mold that grew there during a wet spring and to monitor the air for spores.County Public Works Commissioner Maria C. Lehman said drywall was installed before the building was fully enveloped. Rain seeped inside, and mold formed.The roof is now on the building, p…

The finger pulling the trigger on the semiautomatic rifle wore pale pink nail polish, and a slender shoulder absorbed the kick.Years ago, you weren't likely to see a woman taking aim at the Niagara Gun Range or any public gun range. Times have changed.Erie County residents are flocking in increasing numbers for pistol permits, often citing personal safety and the fear of a…