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GIAMBRA PLANS TO PRESS FOR SALES TAX INCREASE

County Executive Joel A. Giambra says he will turn up the heat on the Erie County Legislature for a sales tax increase now that a key state lawmaker has revealed a change of heart.

Giambra said Thursday that State Sen. Dale M. Volker, R-Depew, told him he's willing to introduce a bill supporting Giambra's request if the County Legislature shows "necessary support."

Ten of the County Legislature's 15 members would have to support Giambra's request to add a penny to the sales tax in order for it to also win State Legislature approval. That would bring it to 9.25 percent.

By most measures, Giambra doesn't yet have the votes, and he said he will meet with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to muster the two-thirds majority to charge consumers a total 9.25 cents on the dollar.

Volker did not return calls seeking his comment.

Another key lawmaker, Assembly Majority Leader Paul A. Tokasz, D-Cheektowaga, says Giambra has not proved the need for a sales tax increase, which would raise about $125 million a year and would help close a $130 million deficit forecast for 2005. But Tokasz, too, has said he wants to hear from the County Legislature.

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