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COUNCIL TO CONSIDER MEASURES TO CHANGE CITY'S BUDGET PROCESS

The City Council on Monday will consider two resolutions aimed at making changes in the city budget process.

Council Chairman Vincent V. Anello wants to ensure there will be no transfer of funds out of any department in danger of running over budget. He also said he wants to clarify the format for the mayor's budget presentation and make certain that someone is responsible for delivering a complete budget package to the Council.

The Council also will consider a resolution by Councilwoman Barbara A. Geracitano that would give the Council an additional month to work on the mayor's proposed budget.

Anello said the provisions of his resolution dealing with fund transfers is prompted by concern that 1997 ended with a deficit. Anello said preventing transfers out of departments that are overspending would "help fill the gap while we still have the time and the opportunity to do it."

City Administrator Anthony J. Restaino said he didn't "have any problem with that. That makes all the sense in the world. That makes good governmental practice."

Restaino said he couldn't confirm yet if there was a deficit in 1997 because final figures are not available. However, he said, if there was one, it could pose a problem for $4 million in capital improvements scheduled for this year out of the final Love Canal payment received in 1997.

Since the Council placed the money in the general fund budget instead of setting up a separate capital account as Mayor James C. Galie's administration recommended, all or part of the Love Canal funds would have to be used to reduce the deficit, if it exists, Restaino said.

Anello said the other part of his resolution is intended to ensure that the mayor submits all of the items required under the City Charter with his spending plan. Council members have complained the past two years that Galie's budget submissions were incomplete.

Mrs. Geracitano's resolution asks for a public hearing April 6 on moving the mayor's budget presentation up a month to Oct. 1. The Council would still have until Dec. 1 to return the budget to the mayor. Council members have said one month isn't long enough for budget deliberations. Critics of moving the dates say the budget process was pushed back to November so it would not become more politicized in election years.

On other matters, the Council will consider:

A contract with R&D Engineering for a study of water and sewer operations.

A contract for up to $10,000 for the year with the Golden Age Clubs of Niagara Falls to provide recreation services for adults over 60 years of age.

A contract of up to $500,000 with Haseley Trucking, for the repaving of Highland Avenue from College to Maryland avenues.

A resolution opposing the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission's decision to raise tolls by 25 percent, from $2 to $2.50, effective March 30.

The appointment of Vanessa Walker to the Planning Board.

Changing medical insurance options for elected officials, department heads and exempt employees.