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Poloncarz seeks restoration of Comptroller's Office

Mark C. Poloncarz wants to bolster the ranks in the Comptroller's Office next year -- despite the fact it could become a political thorn for him as he moves into the county executive's office.

Poloncarz, who will leave the job of country comptroller in January, asked Erie County legislators this morning to restore seven jobs in the comptroller's office that County Executive Chris Collins has targeted for cuts or has failed to restore.

"If these jobs are not restored, my successor will be unable to do the work," Poloncarz told the Legislature's Finance, Management and Budget Committee this morning.

The cost of adding the salaries back in is about $380,000, plus benefits. The jobs include: four auditors, a supervising tax accountant, comptroller's secretary and the associate deputy comptroller.

Poloncarz called the cuts to his office "vindictive."

"It had nothing to do with running government," Poloncarz said. "It had everything to do with politics."

Collins, who last year tried to make similar cuts, said a year ago that he felt the office had been politicized. Five auditors in the 2011 were restored through a grant from the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority.

That grant funding has dried up, and Collins' proposal for 2012 would leave the Division of Audit & Control with two auditors, according to information Poloncarz distributed this morning.

The county comptroller -- who serves as a fiscal watchdog for the county -- often ends up in an adversarial role with the county executive.

"Truthfully," Poloncarz told legislators this morning, "if you're doing a good job, you don't care if the watchdog is looking over your shoulder."

Poloncarz may benefit as county executive from the fact that the next county comptroller -- at least until an election is held -- will also be a Democrat. By county charter, the Legislature must pick someone to fill the seat from the same political party as the person who vacates it.

Poloncarz will appear before the Legislature again on Friday to detail his recommended changes for the overall 2012 proposed budget.

--Denise Jewell Gee

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

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Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

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