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Cattaraugus County's proposed budget got a little smaller Monday.

The Legislature's Finance Committee plugged in some anticipated revenues and pared down the proposed $171 million spending plan for 2005, bringing the expected increase in the tax levy to under 9 percent.

Finance is the last committee to tackle the budget after other committees oversaw the removal of about $275,000 over the past two weeks. The reductions authorized by all committees total more than $2.7 million.

The plan is set for a public hearing at 3 p.m. today and is expected to be brought to a vote during the afternoon's full legislative session. If it is adopted, more than two dozen full-time positions will not be funded, with the county's two nursing home facilities in Machias and Olean earmarked to lose 22 full-time equivalent staffers.

"They should go back to the drawing board and find another way of saving the money," said Donna Vickman, a licensed practical nurse who works at The Pines in Machias and is president of the 925-member Civil Service Employees Association Local 805.

About 18 sign-carrying workers, clad in CSEA T-shirts and black armbands, attended the meeting to protest the cuts, which affect nurses, cleaners and dietary workers and extend to part-time jobs.

Vickman and Senior Services Committee Chairman Gary M. Felton, R-Machias, sat down after the meeting to adjust the positions affected in an attempt to save one or two jobs. Finance Committee Chairwoman Crystal J. Abers, R-South Dayton, said Monday night that she expects to support the budget proposal containing all the committee changes in today's vote, but could also recommend referring the staffing issues back to committee for further negotiations.

Some legislators warned against factoring in a hoped-for 1.75 percent increase in the sales tax before state lawmakers indicate support.

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