Gov. Pataki Wednesday said the City of Tonawanda will have a swimming pool this summer only if state legislators stop asking for up to $1 billion in additional spending and start passing a new state budget.
Because of the budget impasse, along with some bureaucratic bungling, the city did not receive the nearly $700,000 it expected last month.
Without the money -- and without it soon -- the city cannot make the repairs necessary to open the 40-year-old Kohler Pool this summer, according to Mayor Alice A. Roth.
Thousands of kids will have no pool, Mrs. Roth said, because two indoor pools run by the schools are also scheduled for repairs.
At a meeting between Pataki and legislative leaders, both sides said the blame -- and the solution -- lie with the other side.
Pataki said the Legislature could adopt a new state budget, while Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said the governor has the power to release the funds for Tonawanda and similar projects around the state.
But Pataki is seeking ways to pressure the Legislature, especially Assembly Democrats, into dropping their demands for more money and adopting a budget soon.
Pataki said he will give the Legislature legislation necessary to operate the government week to week, but he may try to block paychecks to state legislators starting next month.
Pataki said the Assembly Democrats want to spend another $1 billion -- including $450 million for schools, $54 million for welfare and $50 million for Buffalo and other cities -- above Pataki's plan. The Senate has a similar list that would add $300 million to Pataki's latest proposal.
Both the $1 million and $300 million requests are in addition to the $1.8 billion Pataki has agreed to add to his original $64 billion spending plan.
Another $860 million would mean the state would spend as much as it did last year.
Tonawanda has been waiting so long for its money "people think I'm hallucinating when I mention it," Mrs. Roth said.
The money was originally promised in 1992, and Mrs. Roth said she no longer mentions the project in her annual State of the City address.
"The most frustrating thing I find here is that we've had the lawyers get paid, the consultants get paid, the architects get paid, so a great deal of taxpayer dollars have already been spent" planning this project, she said. "But not one penny has been translated into any tangible use for the youth of New York State."
The money never reached Tonawanda largely because the state budget was not adopted by the April 1 deadline.