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RADICH VETOES $1.8 MILLION IN BUDGET CUTS MOVE AFFECTS 34 JOBS; LACKAWANNA BUSINESSES THREATEN TAX REVOLT

Lackawanna Mayor Thomas E. Radich today vetoed virtually all of the $1.8 million in spending cuts approved by the City Council.

He vetoed the elimination of 34 full-time jobs, including those of 14 firefighters and five police officers.

He also vetoed virtually all of the other changes in his proposed budget that were approved by the Council on a 3-2 vote June 11. Those cuts had included pay decreases for elected officials and other non-union personnel as well as what amounted to a 20 percent across-the-board cut in departmental budgets.

The budget now goes back to the Council, which has 30 days in which to either override or sustain the vetoes.

Meanwhile, an organization representing about 30 Lackawanna businesses is threatening a tax revolt unless city spending is drastically reduced.

At a meeting Tuesday of the Southtowns Business Association, members will be asked to pledge to withhold city property taxes unless spending for the fiscal year beginning Aug. 1 is slashed by 50 percent, Donald A. Doino, president of the group, said Thursday.

"The business community of Lackawanna can no longer tolerate the overspending, overlapping of services and general mismanagement," Doino said in a letter to Radich.

Unless the budget is cut in half the business community "is prepared to withhold payment of all property taxes until such time as the city's government realizes that a drastic austerity program is necessary," Doino said in the letter.

"Lackawanna's other option is bankruptcy," he added.

At the meeting at noon Tuesday in Ilio DiPaolo's restaurant in Blasdell, business people will be asked to approve a resolution agreeing to withhold taxes unless spending is cut, Doino said.

If successful, the move could drive the city into bankruptcy and force reductions, Doino said.

He said he has talked to a number of business people and they are willing to face the consequences of withholding taxes, including interest penalties and the eventual start of foreclosure proceedings.

Withheld taxes would be deposited in an escrow account until the city's spending habits are corrected, Doino, a Lackawanna funeral director, said.

Radich said Thursday that the demand is unrealistic and even if he wanted to, it's too late for him to make such cuts because his budget already has been presented to the City Council.

Withholding of taxes on a large scale would create havoc for the city, Radich acknowledged.

"I admit it's difficult for business in Lackawanna, but why weren't they (the Southtowns group) up front when businesses wanted to come in?" he said.

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