Erie County Legislature Approves $5 Million for Albright Knox from Surplus

"It was quite the contentious meeting."

May 23, 2019 - 5:18 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - It was a wild day at the Erie County Legislature.

But after all was said and done, the body approved a proposal to spend roughly $15 million in 2018 surplus money. Perhaps the most contentious of the expenditures was a fulfillment of a previous $5 million pledge to the Albright-Knox expansion project by County Executive Mark Poloncarz. The minority caucus, led by leader Joe Lorigo, was not particularly fond of allocating that much money to the art gallery, as he would have preferred to see the money spent elsewhere.

And his views haven't wavered even though he wasn't surprised on how the vote turned out.

"I know that the majority caucus got their marching orders that the $5 million had to go to the Albright-Knox, and that was clear from day one," said Lorigo following the vote. "The county executive got everybody in line, they voted the way they did, and I'm just disappointed again in this body and the lack of independent thought that exists."

Lorigo certainly let his emotion show throughout the day. During a committee meeting in the morning, Lorigo called out colleague Kevin Hartwick, and in the afternoon session, there were several disputes about procedure, as the session required to go to recess on three separate occasions.

"It was quite the contentious meeting," he said.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic majority, legislator April Baskin expressed completely differing views from Lorigo on pretty much everything.

"Today, we were able to successfully approve some of the surplus funding in Erie County," she began. "I'm very pleased with today's budget balancing amendments."

Some of the other allocations included funding for City of Buffalo roadwork, more than half a million dollars for the purchase and implementation for body cameras for Erie County Sheriff's deputies, as well as $1.2 million in funding for various poverty initiatives.

She also addressed the aforementioned contention in the legislature throughout the day, but she simply shrugged it off as part of the job.

"Everything is alright," she said with a laugh. "We did have three recesses, and rightly so. I think when you're dealing with a $1.8 billion budget in Erie County and almost $50 million in surplus funding, it's only responsible for us to take breaks to deliberate and speak passionately about things that matter to the constituents that we represent."

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