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RULING RESTORES FUNDS IN GALLIVAN SUIT

Erie County Sheriff Patrick M. Gallivan pledged Thursday to continue to look for ways to save taxpayer money after the county government agreed to provide all the overtime funds needed to meet state-mandated staffing requirements at the Erie County Holding Center and Alden Correctional Facility this year.

Hours after a settlement was endorsed by State Supreme Court Justice Joseph G. Makowski, the judicial overseer of the fiscally troubled county government, Gallivan said he expects to need an additional $3 million to $4 million in overtime this year for jail personnel.

Gallivan went to court to fight to get more than the $4.5 million allotted for jail staff overtime, arguing that state-mandated staffing requirements could not be met with that amount.

Gallivan vowed to go back to court if the Giambra administration and the Erie County Legislature impose any further cuts in his $47.7 million overall operating budget.

The noontime settlement came on the second day of a hearing before Makowski on the sheriff's suit over budget cuts that eliminated 71 jail positions and 89 road deputies. Gallivan says the cuts also forced him to cut many service programs and close the narcotics unit.

Admitting that 2006 "will be another tough budget year" for the county due to a raft of unfunded state mandates, including the most costly Medicaid program in the nation, Gallivan said he is confident the increased jail funding will carry him through this year.

"It's an excellent resolution for the county. It puts the litigation to rest. He's not getting any additional funds in his budget. The county just recognized its pre-existing obligation to pay overtime," Carol Heckman, attorney for the county in this case, said late Thursday.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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