County Executive Gorski has ruled out giving the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra the $150,000 bailout it has been seeking for the past two months to balance its 1990-91 budget.
He cited a recent $7 million cut in state aid to the county as the reason. Gorski, however, will accelerate payments of 1991 county aid to the money-strapped music group, which is slated to receive $722,123 in cultural arts funding next year from the county, plus an emergency appropriation of $150,000.
He also noted that the orchestra's fiscal year runs from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, so there is still time next year to patch the $150,000 hole in its budget.
"We've made a substantial financial commitment to the Philharmonic, and we'll see they get their funds in the first quarter," he said. "Beyond that, we are not in a position to appropriate additional money."
"I think we've formulated a plan that will allow the Philharmonic to continue playing," he added. "I want to help them, and I'm doing that by advancing their 1991 aid."
The county executive said he discussed his intentions with Edwin H. Wolf, the Philharmonic's executive director, during a Tuesday afternoon meeting. Wolf confirmed that conversation, but said he still holds out hope for a last-minute miracle.
"The fact that we need the additional $150,000 in emergency aid has been well-publicized," Wolf said. "All we can do now is hope the (County) Legislature can do something for us."
Andrew Rudnick, Philharmonic board president, expressed hope for a change of heart on Gorski's part.
He said he feels the Gorski administration made a commitment to provide the additional aid last month when the Philharmonic and musicians announced they had reached an agreement to trim costs and come up with the financing needed to close a deficit that had held up the start of the 1990-91 season for seven weeks.
"The administration was a direct part of the agreement we reached in November, and he (Gorski) has made additional commitments for the $150,000," he said. "I would hope he would honor his word before the end of the year."
The Legislature has no Philharmonic bailout on its agenda for today's meeting, its last of 1990. No last-minute special session to approve extra aid is in the works.
Majority Leader Leonard R. Lenihan, D-Town of Tonawanda, who has championed the orchestra's call for a $150,000 bailout, said chances are "less than slim" that lawmakers will play Santa Claus.
"We could pass something over here saying they should have the money, but he (Gorski) still has to approve it," he said. "That's the reality of the situatra bailout
in the first quarter
Another legislative leader, who requested anonymity, said the bailout "is dead in the water."
There has been some discussion of tacking the additional funding for the Philharmonic onto a resolution that will apply $850,000 in 1990 surplus funding to 1991 debt service payments. However, support for that maneuver is said to be limited.
Lenihan said the Philharmonic should set its sights on 1991.
"I think their best bet is an early advance in 1991 that would keep their cash flow even," he said. "There's always a chance we could find funds for an emergency appropriation later in the year."
Gorski said he is keeping the door open to additional funding next year, if fiscal conditions improve.
"1991 is going to be a turbulent year," he said. "There are a lot of factors, most of them out of our control, that will determine our ability to help them."