Niagara Gazette — During the meeting, Legislature Chairman Bill Ross, C-Wheatfield, read aloud a letter to the panel from the NAACP, Niagara Falls chapter, objecting to the dining site cuts. The letter observed that while there are 22 congregate dining sites countywide, only a few are “targeted” for service reduction and two of them are attended predominantly by minorities: African Americans at St. John’s AME Church and Native Americans at Tuscarora House. If spending cuts are required, an equal cut to all 22 sites would be fairer, the letter said. A “bipartisan” budget amendment, by Virtuoso and Ross, paved the way to four years of annual raises for newly re-elected Sheriff James Voutour. The sheriff’s pay, $98,245 for each of the last four years, will be raised to $100,701 next year, $103,219 in 2014, $105,799 in 2016 and $108,444 in 2016. By law the legislature must set the sheriff’s salary before his four-year term begins.
With budget adoption, the Legislature approved elimination of 35 full-time positions, five part-time positions and one seasonal post. Most but not all of the jobs were vacant; at least four nurses assigned to the county jail, and clerical staff assigned to the public health division, are being laid off this month.