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To the dismay of some Lancaster Town Board members, officials narrowly approved more than $800,000 in amendments to the $11.6 million 2001 budget Monday night.

"We're raiding the reserves once again," said Councilman Richard D. Zarbo, who voted against the amendments along with fellow Republican Georgette F. Pelletterie.

"It seems like we're playing a shell game. Now you see it. Now you don't," he said.

The 2001 budget process was a ploy to make taxpayers think the Democrats were saving them money, Zarbo said.

"That's almost 3 percent of the budget. That's how much they hid to make people think they were saving taxes. They're covering up the fact that the budget was purposely shorted to make it look like it was no tax increase this year," Zarbo said.

That's simply not true, said Supervisor Robert H. Giza, who likened the town's budget to a family's budget. The fact is, he added, a review of the accounts showed there was a need for the adjustments or a shifting of some funds.

"Let's say you plan a family vacation and the refrigerator breaks down. That just means the family will have to go to Darien Lake instead of Disneyworld," he said. "It's nothing more than that."

The 2001 budget was plagued with controversy from the onset.

Last November, board members were deadlocked on the budget, which was originally proposed at $16,074,831. Those who opposed it pointed to high salaries and unnecessary spending. After some trims were made, the board approved an $11,656,493 spending plan in late November.

The amendments include the following increases:

$582,570 to the Townwide General Fund.

$90,000 to the Refuse District, including $10,000 for recycling equipment and supplies.

$148,000 to the Fire Protection District, including $36,000 added to Workers' Compensation.

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