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The administration of Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was lauded Monday for leaving dozens of budgeted county positions unfilled, resulting in a net savings of $1.9 million in salaries and fringe benefits for the first five months of 2013.

The surprise might have been the source of the praise, which was voiced by County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw during Day One of midyear budget hearings being hosted this week by the Legislature.

Mychajliw and the administration have been in sparring mode in recent weeks over 2013 sales tax revenues that have yet to meet projections and over an audit of the Department of Social Services launched by the Comptroller’s Office that turned out to be inconclusive.

“We want to start out by commending the administration for doing more with less. It’s what families at home are doing. They are doing more with less in this economy, and we commend the administration for doing exactly that,” Mychajliw told Legislators on Monday.

The sentiments were echoed in the comptroller’s midyear review of the 2013 budget released Friday.

“I’d like to thank the comptroller for his report on Friday regarding the midyear budget status, which confirms how much the actions our administration are doing to control expenses this year and help ensure the county is within a balanced budget through May,” said Deputy Budget Director Timothy Callan, who represented the administration throughout daylong hearings.

Also attending the hearings Monday were department heads from the County Attorney’s Office, the County Clerk’s Office, the Comptroller’s Office and the Department of Social Services.

The Legislature’s Finance and Management Committee holds the midyear budget hearings to elicit specific information about personnel positions, corresponding vacancy savings and overtime in each department.

Callan told Legislators that the administration is aggressively pursuing vacancy control as means to contain costs in the 2013 budget. Through May 31, Callan said, the administration has realized $2.7 million gross savings on salaries and fringe benefits from budgeted positions that have gone vacant or unfilled.

Callan said the most recent Budget Monitoring Report shows the county has a positive variance of $673,418. However, negative variances for overtime persist in the sheriff’s division, jail management, the correctional division’s health programs and the safety net program in the Department of Social Services.The Legislature’s midyear budget hearings will continue through Wednesday.

email: hmcneil@buffnews.com