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Legislature seeks options for new rules at border

The Cattaraugus County Legislature went on record Wednesday in support of alternatives to new requirements for travel documents, passports and border-crossing cards for travel to and from Canada.

"All we're asking for is [that] Congress find a better way," said Kenneth W. "Bucky" McClune, D-Salamanca, who co-sponsored the resolution with another Salamanca Democrat, Carmen A. Vecchiarella.

McClune, who noted as many as 23 million people a year cross the region's borders, said he fears the strict requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative could curtail travel and hurt the economy. He suggested the new rules could increase the cost of some passports to $97, possibly harming Western New York's tourism and putting passports out of reach of lower-income travelers.

Copies of the resolution will be sent to all members of Western New York's congressional delegation and other counties in the region.

In other business, all but one lawmaker embraced the recommendation of Nancy C. Barney, real property tax service director, voting to reject the application of Jeffrey and Kathleen Brisky for a property tax refund on their Farmersville property at 8890 Pigeon Hill Road.

During a county Operations Committee meeting last week, Barney said, the Briskys claimed a clerical error would require a refund from the county. The couple complained they did not receive a mailed notice from the town assessor of an increase in their assessment from $85,000 to $175,000. Therefore, the Briskys did not take the usual steps to file a grievance in front of the town's Board of Assessment Review, officials said.

Barney said she investigated and could find no evidence of a clerical error to justify the refund even though property owners do have the right to apply for a refund from the county in such cases.

During last week's meeting of the county Operations Committee, Legislator Jerry E. Burrell, R-Franklinville, rejected the Brisky application but Wednesday changed his vote, stating some of the facts appear to conflict and he is not sure rejecting the application is proper.

"I'm not satisfied the answer [of no clerical error] is accurate," said Burrell, after the Legislative session. "I'm not sure who was right and who was wrong. This could happen to anybody."

In other matters:

*Legislators agreed to abolish two vacant community health nurse positions and a vacant licensed practical nurse post and create three full-time registered nurse jobs, two full-time Social Services caseworker jobs and a part-time cleaning slot in the Public Works Department.

*After the session ended, Legislature Chairwoman Crystal J. Abers, R-South Dayton, announced lawmakers will host a reception for Tom Carpenter, the regional representative of Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer, from 4 to 6 p.m. April 25 in the Civil Defense Room. She said all town supervisors, town board members, village mayors and trustees have been invited.

*The session closed in honor of Robert Kent of Olean, former legislator and chairman of the Social Services Committee, who died March 29. Kent served as legislator from 1976 to 1981 and from 1986 to 1991. He also served as an Olean alderman in 1972 and from 1994 to 2001.

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