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Spending freeze to be discussed

Talk of a citywide spending freeze, and even a state control board, continues as the City Council prepares for its meeting tonight.

There has been talk of a $3.4 million budget deficit dating back to 2005.

There has been confirmation that $1 million of the city's $1.4 million East Olean sewer bond fund was spent to meet routine cash-flow needs.

And a state comptroller's audit of Olean's finances is due for release soon.

All three matters are keeping the aldermen's request for a citywide spending freeze on the Council table.
Proposed legislation by Common Council President Ray Wangelin, requesting Mayor David Carucci impose an across-the-board spending freeze, was unanimously moved out of the City Operations Committee last week. It will be discussed again at 6:30 p.m. today during a Committee of the Whole meeting in the Municipal Building, 101 E. State St.

Carucci argued against a freeze last week. He said spending in the current budget is under control, and pointed to police and fire union contracts that could cut costs as a result of future collective bargaining.
Carucci and City Attorney Dan DeRose have also stated that the Common Council is responsible for monitoring the city's finances.

While Carucci has insisted he will not allow the situation to reach the point of needing a state-run fiscal stability authority to control growing financial problems, both he and DeRose say the true picture won't be known until the results of the state comptroller's audit are handed over in the near future.

Carucci said he requested the audit, which began after the Council authorized $3.8 million in short-term borrowing in August to plug a cash flow deficit in the 2006-07 budget year. The field work has been completed and initial recommendations are expected soon.

The Council will vote in its regular 7:30 p.m. session on a proposal to reinstate four crossing guards whose positions were eliminated.Funding for the positions was used to hire two police patrolmen.

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