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Half-way through the 1998 fiscal year, Chautauqua County's budget is in generally good condition.

A six-month report to the County Legislature, filed by Budget Director Annette Mohawk, shows county sales tax revenue projected to exceed the budgeted estimate by as much as $750,000.

The report also projects the Social Services Department will end the year with a local share surplus of up to $2 million.

Chief reasons are a $1.1-million drop in expenditures in foster and institutional care, a $700,000 increase in state and federal administration revenues, and declining caseloads in temporary assistance to needy families, which brings expenditures $750,000 under budget.

Those improvements are offset somewhat by an additional $800,000 for Medicaid and $150,000 for the State Training School, both because of unexpected population shifts. Both of those increases are in local spending.

Ms. Mohawk's report projects the Sheriff's Department with a deficit of between $140,000 and $400,000. The chief reason for that is a dramatic decline in revenue for housing prisoners being detained on federal charges. Such prisoners are sent to a new federal facility in Genesee County.

Legislator Joseph Trusso, D-Jamestown, chairman of the Finance Committee, said, "I am pretty pleased with the status of the budget so far. The Sheriff's Department numbers are a concern, but we know why that is happening."

He said a $40,000 revenue shortfall in the county's Medivac helicopter program could be cleared up if Cattaraugus County would pay $10,000 it owes and if others in arrears would seek grants from a federal program designed to cover those costs.

"I asked for this report, and in the future I hope we will be seeking quarterly reports like this," Trusso said. "This helps us to prepare for the next year's budget. You can't do it when the budget comes to you. You need ideas before you even get a look at the budget proposal."

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