Lawmakers Hold Last Minute Budget Conversation

December 3, 2012 Updated Dec 3, 2012 at 8:26 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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December 3, 2012 Updated Dec 3, 2012 at 8:26 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - The countdown is on -- just hours left until the Erie County Legislature meets to vote on a budget.

Both parties are not showing signs of a compromise on the most controversial issue -- a property tax increase.

Erie County legislators spent Monday morning and early afternoon trying to find middle ground about the increase.

The Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says there was no choice, due to a $30 million budget gap. Poloncarz says this is just one of many hard solutions.

However, Republicans say it will be too hard for homeowners that are already threatened by a fiscal cliff.

Legislator Kevin Hardwick (R-4th District) questions "then we're going to ask that family of four who's missing their taxes because the government went over the fiscal cliff to give us more money? Things just don't add up."

Republicans also say the current budget spends too much on ten cultural organizations. Hardwick says "You ought not to give special interests more than they've asked for." However, Poloncarz says there was a flat rate for funding of different organizations -- and many other groups did not get what they asked for. Poloncarz also accused Hardwick of funding groups that did not ask for any funding.

The Minority Caucus proposes making certain cuts to make-up for the $8.5 million brought in by the proposed tax increase.

Some of what would be cut -- certain overtime funding, reducing the Department of Social Services safety net program, and taking away three million dollars from a fund for county lawsuits.

Democrats say there are too many pending lawsuits to take away that money. Legislature Chair Betty Jean Grant (D) says "they have to be paid and the money has to be taken from non-mandated services."

The County Executive, Comptroller and Fiscal Stability Authority all say these cuts would drain the budget in the long run -- slashing more funding in the end.

Poloncarz says "It would take us back towards the path of a red-green fiscal crisis in which elected officials are afraid to make tough decisions and choose easy ones that are wrong."

Republican legislators tell Eyewitness News they did not agree to any compromises during a meeting with Poloncarz.

The County Executive says he brought up some concessions on his behalf, but did not elaborate on what.

Currently, the vote looks like it will be six-to-five for the budget that includes the Minority Caucus changes instead of the property tax increase.