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MARKET BOARD PLEADS FOR CITY HELP

The Broadway Market's financial problems are being made all the worse by city officials who seem reluctant to help deal with them, the president of the market board said following an audit that questions whether the city-owned market can make it through its 115th year.

"It's not (the board's) problem, it's the city's problem, but we need everyone at the table," said Eileen Nowak, who was elected to her second term as president of the volunteer board.

She said she has become frustrated in her attempts to get city officials -- including the mayor, comptroller and City Council -- to come to grips with the problem.

Of immediate concern is the $362,000 "paper" debt the market owes the city for bailing it out two years ago when the facility couldn't pay its utility bills.

Board members said they have been told by city officials that the city doesn't expect the money to be repaid.

Yet the debt remains on the books and hinders the market's ability to seek outside funding -- such as foundation grants -- Nowak and other board members said.

Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, told of Nowak's remarks, said he was not aware of a request for a meeting.

"But I'll check with the people who understand the situation at the market and arrange a meeting ASAP," he said.

Comptroller Anthony Nanula said he has a representative on the board, has met with market officials and remains available to meet.

But he also questioned how much good erasing the debt would do.

"Even if you eliminate it, the market still is operating in the red, and you still have a marginal net asset," he said.

The larger problem of revenues not meeting expenses remains, he said.

Nanula had some highly publicized clashes with members of the board in the past, but said he has confidence in the current board and market Director Richard Fronczak.

Fillmore Council Member David Franczyk's representative on the board, Bob Sienkiewicz, said Franczyk will try to have the debt erased after Jan. 1.

An audit of the market by the firm of Ferraro & Hauser notes that liabilities exceed assets by $325,000 and said there are doubts about the market's ability "to continue as a going concern."

Rental income is insufficient to cover expenses, and the market's continued existence depends on government subsidies, it said.

The board adopted a 2002-03 budget that projects income of $482,500 and a $22,700 deficit. No money was budgeted for advertising.

"You can only cut so much," said Fronczak. "You have to increase the revenue stream."

In addition to Nowak, the board re-elected Bill Hibbard as vice president, Peter Cammarata as treasurer and Holly Schukraft as secretary.

e-mail: ternst@buffnews.com

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