Buffalo's loss of $7.3 million in state aid, trimmed during an overnight budget session in Albany, will be tough to make up halfway through the fiscal year, city officials said today.
"We had hoped they would be less severe and they turned out to be very severe indeed," said Administration and Finance Commissioner Richard Planavsky.
City Comptroller Joel A. Giambra said the cuts amount to 2.5 percent of the city's budget and .6 percent of the school budget. The city lost $5.5 million and the schools, $1.8 million, he said. The city figure includes $900,000 in anticipated pension savings that were erased by the state.
"We've got some real problems to deal with," Giambra said.
What complicates matters further is that the 1990-91 city budget was lean to begin with, said North Council Member David P. Rutecki.
"There are few areas of service cuts that I think are possible because we're so thin now," he said.
The city might be able to juggle some of its financial obligations through cash management and delaying payments, Rutecki said, "although we're doing so much of that already."
Planavsky was mum on what options the city might pursue to close the budget gap. He would not rule out either service cuts or increasing taxes and fees.
He said the state cuts will be felt twice as hard because they're coming halfway through the city budget year. The shortage will have to be made up during the remaining six months.
Planavsky said he briefed Mayor Griffin -- vacationing in Florida -- by telephone this morning. One issue Planavsky emphasized was the state's apparent failure to significantly cut its own bureaucracy.
"I told him the Albany bureaucracy was untouched," Planavsky said. "It's aggravating when local governments must take severe midterm cuts."
The next step, Planavsky said, is for his staff to prepare a report for Griffin on where the city stands midway through its budget year. Estimates will be provided on revenues and expenditures.
"Once we have the overall picture, we'll make recommendations to the mayor on actions to take to keep the budget in the black," he said. No timetable has been set for the mayor to make those decisions.
Giambra said there was some good news out of Albany. He said Rochester has apparently agreed to accept the governor's proposal to settle the Hurd overtaxation case. Rochester officials could not be reached to comment.
He said Rochester's decision came too late to have legislation considered during the special session on the budget deficit. The proposal could be introduced to the Legislature when it reconvenes in January.