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Mercy Flight fails to win more funding

Despite a plea for more financial aid and a history of twice as many helicopter medical transfers, Mercy Flight of Western New York on Wednesday failed to win more funding from the Genesee County Legislature, which allocated $15,000 to the rescue service in its 2009 budget.

The Cheektowaga-based airlift service last month requested $20,000, double the amount paid earlier in this decade. The $15,000 grant first came in 2006 and Mercy Flight leased its own hangar at the county airport. At the time, the medical transfer service estimated the new location could cut response time by as much as 30 minutes.

Mercy Flight has round-the-clock service from the airport in the Town of Batavia, and has several employees who live in the area. It is also estimated that the helicopters use about $7,000 in fuel purchased at the airport.

The legislators also passed resolutions to:

* Proceed with two projects. One is for additional office space and renovations in the Public Defender's Office in the former sheriff's administration building at a cost of $1,692, available in state aid. The other, for $7,900, will cover the increased cost of the county's Fire Training Center's parking lot improvement after the project exceeded its $20,000 estimate.

* Renewed a one-year contract with Stuart Brown Associates of Rochester for grant writing services at a cost not to exceed $5,000.

* Pay the firm of Freed Maxick and Battaglia of Batavia $29,500 for continuing its auditing services for two years.

* Authorize the National Recovery Agency to pursue collection of health care receivables for the county Health Department. Any success, the legislators were told, could provide additional revenue for future budgets.

* Earlier, the legislators held another session to fashion the 2009 budget. The goal is to keep the property tax rate below $10 per $1,000 assessed valuation for the third straight year. The current spending plan is $140 million, at $9.82 per $1,000. The budget must be ready for a public hearing on Nov. 3.

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