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Published: Wednesday, 10/29/2003

Monroe County officials juggle cuts to 2004 budget

MONROE - Monroe County commissioners continued to struggle with a $1.7 million deficit for the 2004 fiscal year last night.

Commissioners considered issues involving courthouse security, a planned cut in its self-help road program, and restoration of at least two positions that were planned to be among 21 layoffs Administrator Charlie Londo said were necessary to balance the county's $43.1 million general operating fund budget.

A majority of commissioners originally voted to end the county's contract with an outside firm to provide armed security guards at the Monroe County Courthouse during its regular business hours.

The $106,000 line item was removed when all board members met in a finance committee meeting before their regular meeting, but was restored on another vote in the regular meeting.

Commissioners have scheduled a Nov. 25 public hearing on the county budget, which must be passed no later than Dec. 31.

In other action, commissioners approved an increase in the tipping fee charged to waste haulers when they deposit their trash in the county's three landfills. The county originally proposed increasing the fee from 10 cents per cubic yard of waste to 50 cents.

However, after local landfill operators and elected officials complained that they had not been included in the discussions to set the rate, the financially strapped county lowered the increase to a flat 18 cents per cubic yard of waste.

Also last night, commissioners were lambasted by several members of the gay community for the board's adoption last month of a resolution urging the legislature to adopt a constitutional amendment defining marriage as taking place only between a man and a woman.

“Bigotry, in any form, should never be acceptable,” said Jeff Doom of Erie, who asked that Commissioner N. Randy Ansel resign for a comment he made that called homosexual relationships “appalling.”

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