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State cuts town video lottery payment

Hamburg will lose more than half a million dollars in state payments for the video lottery terminals at the Hamburg Casino money that had been expected in this year's budget.

Town officials said Monday night they have been told the agreement on the state budget does not eliminate the payments but puts them at a rate that is equal to 45 percent of the payments received in 2008.

"It is a significant cut," Supervisor Steven J. Walters said.

Councilman Jonathan Gorman said the town will receive about $560,000 less than expected this year, and Walters put the figure at more than $600,000. The 2011 budget includes $1.11 million under revenues for the video lottery payment.

"I think the town needs to revisit cuts," Gorman said.

Gorman had proposed $608,000 in cuts to the supervisor's budget last fall, but the package of cuts failed to gain the support of board Republicans.

Walters said at Monday's Town Board meeting that he has asked department heads to come up with ways to save money.

The loss of money gave Highway Superintendent Tom Best the opportunity to sound a familiar theme of urging the board to ask the state to allow it to fully tax agricultural societies.

But Hamburg Chamber of Commerce President Betty Newell said the board should go after the state to restore the money, not the Erie County Agricultural Society.

The loss of revenue also came up when the board was asked to designate a town employee to coordinate activities with the Hamburg Rejuvenation Project. The project runs events such as Blast at the Beach, townwide cleanup, National Night Out, Beautification Awards, Christmas at the Cabin and sponsor/volunteer recognition night.

Those events could be canceled this year if an administrative coordinator based in Town Hall is not named, according to a letter from the committee to the town.

"The perception that Hamburg is unable or unwilling to continue hosting these events will surely become a topic for conversation not only within our town limits but throughout the Western New York area," said Rejuvenation Project member Paula Takach, reading the letter to the board.

She said committee members had asked the supervisor for a contact person but got no final decision from the town. The duties had been filled by the Council secretary, who retired last year.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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