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GOP lawmakers back borrowing

The Erie County Legislature's three Republicans on Monday called on the state-appointed control board to step aside and let the county's elected leaders borrow the nearly $90 million sorely needed for road and bridge repairs.

Erie County has not borrowed for major projects since 2006 because of a dispute with the control board, which wants to step in as the county's borrowing agent.

The credit crisis recently hamstrung the board's attempt to borrow on Wall Street. Further clouding the picture, the control board is considering legal action against its underwriter because the deal failed.

The Republicans, who have road projects under way in their districts, want the control board to let the county's elected leaders assemble the rest of the financing for repairs.

"It's like having a house with a leaky roof," said Legislator John J. Mills of Orchard Park, the Republican minority leader. "If you don't repair the roof, you damage everything inside of it. I think that's the best comparison with what's happening with Erie County."

With Wall Street bond sales down 40 percent from the previous year, control board officials met Monday with County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz in an attempt to chart a strategy. The Republicans urged Poloncarz to provide money for the repairs, which he so far refuses to do.

e-mail: mspina@buffnews.com

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