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Canavan urges tough control board for county

Republican comptroller candidate John J. Canavan on Tuesday called on Gov. George E. Pataki to impose an all-encompassing control board on Erie County, claiming local leaders lack the political will to make the tough decisions to restore fiscal stability.

In a news conference outside the Rath County Office Building, the candidate rejected County Executive Joel A. Giambra's call for a 50 percent tax increase over the next two years. Even before Giambra and the County Legislature tackle the issue to meet an Oct. 1 deadline imposed by the current advisory control board, Canavan said only a "hard" control board will impose significant spending cuts.

"In releasing his four-year plan, Joel Giambra has once again shown an unwillingness to control expenditures," Canavan said. "He and [Legislature Chairman] George Holt continue to debate the best type of tax increase. We need someone willing to control expenditures, not provide for controlled tax increases."

Canavan, who is opposing Democrat Mark C. Poloncarz and Conservative-backed Robert E. Whelan, said new taxes are destined to "destroy businesses" and urged Giambra and the Legislature to examine more ways of cutting expenses.

The candidate said the county executive has so far failed to concentrate on cutting expenses, citing potential for savings in uncovering Medicaid fraud and abuse and implementing the recommendations of a Buffalo Niagara Partnership commission that studied county government.

"If you look at his budget, it's overweighted with revenues," he said. "It's 70 percent tax increase and 30 [percent] or 40 percent cutting expenses. We have to reverse that."

Canavan said Giambra and the Legislature have not demonstrated the "political will" to cut spending and avoid taxes.

"Joel Giambra has failed to act, and it's time to take it out of his hands and put it in the hands of a control board," he said.

Giambra was not available to comment.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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