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Chautauqua County Executive Mark Thomas said Friday he will veto a resolution to cut 50 percent of the jobs to be vacated under an early retirement program.

Thomas said that he will sign the local law allowing county employees to take advantage of the state's early retirement incentives, but that he cannot go along with the companion resolution.

"It would be difficult, if not impossible, to make that work and still maintain the level of service that people have come to expect from county government," Thomas said. "The local law deserves to stand alone without the Legislature tying my hands to put the program in place."

Thomas added that the state's program, by itself, will create some savings.

"The state program is designed to require a 50-percent reduction in our payroll cost over two years from 1998," he said. "That is a significant savings, and there will be positions that will not be refilled. That's a given."

In addition, Thomas said the restructuring of county government will lead to more savings in 1999.

Thomas has chosen two divisions to test his restructuring plan in a switch to performance-based government. They are the Department of Public Works' Transportation Division, which is in charge of roads and bridges, and the Department of Social Services' Division of Economic Security, which handles the welfare-to-work program.

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