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DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATORS QUESTION $30 MILLION IN FUND TRANSFERS

Democrats on the Erie County Legislature joined their Republican counterparts Thursday in seeking an accounting of as much as $30 million in transfers thus far this year.

Legislators want Kenneth Kruly, who assumed the post of budget director in March, to list and explain all transfers this year.

The GOP frequently accuses the Gorski administration of hiding huge pockets of money, which the administration strongly denies.

"I'm glad to see this Legislature is finally getting together," said Minority Leader Frederick J. Marshall, R-East Aurora. "We are talking about budget transfers that total millions."

The transfers include $9 million that was shifted to a "risk retention fund" and may total $30 million, Marshall said. The transfers are within the framework of the county's annual budget totaling $1.087 billion.

Legislator Albert DeBenedetti, D-Buffalo, said legislators erred last December when, in a 9-8 vote, they gave the administration power to make budgetary shifts without Legislature approval.

At the time, the Legislature asked the budget director to justify the transfers within 10 days of each one, but GOP legislators say this has not happened.

"Ten months later, we still don't have those reports," DeBenedetti said. "Under the circumstances, I have to commend the Republicans for being persistent."

In other action, the Legislature called for a plan of action to head off future traffic accidents along the rural roadways of Eden and North Collins, where 36 people have died in the last 10 years. The Legislature called on all highway agencies to come up with plan "to prevent any more road tragedies from occurring." New York state has control of Route 249, which is without stop signs between Langford and North Collins. although the county has worked with the towns to install signs and post speed limits on intersecting roads where accidents occurred. State appointees are expected to provide their decisions on Route 249 publicly soon.

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