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LAWMAKERS ACT TO HALT DRIVING REIMBURSEMENT

On the heels of a report that two Erie County legislators bill the county for driving to and from their offices, members of the Legislature's Republican Caucus introduced a proposal Thursday to stop them from doing it.

"There is a hole in the county's personnel policy that generalizes the opportunity for employees to receive reimbursement for their travel expenses," GOP leader Michael H. Ranzenhofer, R-Clarence, said. "Particularly with the upcoming budget situation, we believe that this problem needs to be fixed."

A story in Thursday's Buffalo News reported that Legislators Albert DeBenedetti, D-Buffalo, and Edward J. Kuwik, D-Lackawanna, have billed the county for $4,665 and $3,957, respectively, since 1999 for travel to their offices and to County Hall. Other county lawmakers do not seek such reimbursement.

"I've never heard of a business -- public or private -- that reimburses its employees for travel expenses incurred while traveling from home to work," said Legislator Jeanne Z. Chase, R-Hamburg. "The open-ended policy that makes it legally acceptable for legislators to have these expenses paid by taxpayers is one that needs to be changed."

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