BALLSTON SPA: Pledged funds in doubt

The village of Ballston Spa is caught in the political tug-of-war between Gov. Eliot Spitzer and State Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, with funding for its bicentennial yearlong celebrations suspended.

The village received a member line item donation of $100,000 authorized by Tedisco in January at the start of its bicentennial year. The grant funds were scheduled to be delivered to the bicentennial committee as reimbursements to expenses incurred throughout the year.

Village Mayor John Romano said the funds are always received after vouchers are submitted as documentation that the money was used as it was intended.

Romano said the committee already received $10,000 of the total, but total expenses for various events including a parade, family carnival and fireworks display totaled about $130,000. Fundraising was done to cover the remainder of the expenses.

The money is spent, said Romano. "Here it is 10 months later, and obviously we would have changed our plans if we'd had any idea. I'm disappointed; it's disheartening to see this even happen."

Tedisco, who expected to receive $482,548, said the governor's actions were political retaliation because Tedisco has been against the governor's plan to give licenses to illegal immigrants.

Spitzer has denied this accusation. According to Spitzer spokesman Jeffery Gordon, the Assembly Republicans were not entitled to that money.

Gordon said that when George Pataki was governor, he gave some of his own member item money to the minority Assembly Republicans. Once Spitzer came into office, he said he would do away with that policy, but would honor any promises made to organizations before Jan. 1, when he came into office.

"Member items totaling $405,583 were disapproved by the governor's office because they represented new grants in 2007 and therefore were not consistent with the governor's commitment to only use governor's funds for member item commitments made prior to Jan. 1, 2007," Gordon said in a statement. "Additional member item requests from the Assembly Minority to use governor's funds for certain member items are still being reviewed to determine whether they were made pursuant to commitments made prior to Jan. 1, 2007."

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