Faced with a serious cash-flow shortage, Cattaraugus County legislators today will consider borrowing $2.5 million to keep the government operating through the end of the year.
County Administrator Donald E. Furman briefed about seven legislative leaders on the problem Tuesday.
Several legislators who did not want to be identified blamed the state for the shortage. They said state officials have steadily increased the time for receiving state aid from 45 days to six months.
One legislator noted the county has not received any state money for Social Services programs since September.
"As a result, we will have to borrow $2.5 million for six months," said Gerard Fitzpatrick, R-Ellicottville.
He said the county will use tax-anticipation notes, a method not used since 1986 when the county also faced a cash-flow problem and had to borrow $9 million.
In 1985, financial problems also forced the county to borrow $1.3 million through a budget note and $405,390 through a bond-anticipation note.
However, in the last four years short-term borrowing hasn't been necessary. Another legislator noted the county's financial advisers said 45 other counties and school districts are facing the same problems.
Several weeks ago, county Treasurer Orville W. Johnston predicted a $2 million shortfall when the books for 1990 are closed. Furman has declined to confirm that amount, saying he won't comment until all the figures are totaled.
Legislators confirmed payrolls won't be affected by the cash shortage. Furman explained the county needs about $2 million in cash to meet its weekly obligations.
Leading to the problem, one legislator said, was the Legislature's action earlier this year to make a $1 million contribution to the state retirement system instead of spreading payments over 17 years.
The shortage will also have an impact on 1991 projects. Plans to borrow $3.8 million for public works equipment, and bridge and road projects will be scaled back so the county won't exceed a $10 million cap for borrowing in any one fiscal year, one legislator said.
Fitzpatrick said instead, legislators will consider bonding $1.5 million, an amount recommended by financial advisers.
"That will require some adjustments in work plans," said Fitzpatrick, who is head of the Public Works Committee. Some bridges and roads earmarked for repair next year will be delayed. A $300,000 crane purchase will be dropped for the second consecutive year.
Earlier this year, legislators voted to approve $5.2 million in bonding for an addition to the county jail. Work is scheduled to begin in the spring to add office space and more than 50 cells to relieve overcrowding.
The Legislature today also will vote on resolutions and laws that would provide raises to 71 supervisory workers and several elected officials. The raises will cost taxpayers $60,000 next year.
But after hearing about the cash problems, legislative leaders Tuesday agreed those raises may be decreased.
One legislator said employees in line for promotions to certain steps within their salary grades will be moved to the closest grade, scaling back some projected hikes. Also raises for the sheriff, clerk and treasurer may be phased in over several years instead of paying large lump sums next year.