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Vacancies causing concern

Delays by Mayor Byron W. Brown in making some appointments are causing problems for the board that runs Buffalo's water system, an official said Thursday.

"We haven't been able to conduct business since January," said Water Board Vice Chairman Warren K. Galloway.

There are three vacancies on the seven-member panel, and Galloway said it has been impossible to assemble a quorum.

"We have certain bills to pay, and we can't pay them," he said, adding that some of the bills involve outstanding legal fees.

Brown took steps to fill one vacancy last month when he named his former public works commissioner as chairman of the Water Board.

But Brown recently informed the Council that Joseph N. Giambra has requested that his appointment be withdrawn. Giambra told The Buffalo News he has some minor health issues and is taking his doctors' advice to take it easy.

"I'm trying to keep my stress levels down," Giambra said.

One looming issue the board will have to address involves setting water rates for the new fiscal year that starts July 1.

City Comptroller Andrew A. SanFilippo's office also is imploring the mayor to move swiftly in filling the vacancies, two of which have been empty for more than a year.

First Deputy Mayor Steven M. Casey said the administration understands the importance of filling the vacancies. But Casey said finding candidates who have some experience in water issues is a challenge. By law, the city must have at least one person with water system expertise on the panel. Board members receive $50 per meeting, and they typically meet once a month.


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