Buffalo, NY

Common Council Adopts City Budget After Brief Negotiations

J.M. Lesinski

A shot of traffic on Union Road in the city of Buffalo, New York.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

With summer closing in and change in the air, a new city fiscal plan has been approved for the city of Buffalo, New York. Recently, Mayor Byron Brown’s city budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year was approved by the City of Buffalo Common Council.

After a series of Common Council reviews, public hearings, and amendments made by the council, the spending plan was officially adopted. Included in the City of Buffalo Common Council’s amendments was the inclusion of certain monies to be spent on various projects in specific council members’ districts, also referred to as “Council Member Neighborhood Initiatives.”

The City of Buffalo’s new $535 million spending plan will include a number of services and programs for the city, including enhanced City of Buffalo workforce training, public safety measures, youth services and programs, and support for parks and cultural organizations. The budget also has money set aside for a number of street, sidewalk, and other mobility infrastructure projects, as well as contributions to the city’s Climate Action Plan.

“My Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 ensures that we will remain on a conservative and sound fiscal track that strengthens communities and neighborhoods, produces a competitive development environment, and promotes inclusive prosperity,” Brown said of his budget proposal. “This year’s spending plan resumes the years of investment we have made in areas including, youth employment, parks, cultural institutions, public safety, and infrastructure while also making the adjustments in spending that takes into account the strong foundation we have laid for a complete recovery and future prosperity.”

The opening document in the 2021-2022 recommended budget, Brown’s personal Mayor’s Message to the Buffalo community, commented specifically on the goals therein before transitioning to updates on the city’s previous year budget and the implications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Recommended Budget builds on the foundation of fiscal stability, continuing economic recovery and innovation, and provides a blueprint for “Post-Pause” Prosperity across the City of Buffalo,” Brown stated in the Mayor’s Message. “I am very proud that my Administration’s steady, smart, and meticulously planned approach for weathering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the City of Buffalo Budget last year was successful.”

Of the budget, Brown continued, “We realized at the outset of the crisis that the physical distancing meant to slow the spread of the virus would adversely impact our budget, however, my Administration also recognized that the worst thing to do during an economic or unemployment crisis was to lay people off or increase taxes. That is why the City borrowed money at record low interest rates to ensure our workforce remained intact and that critical frontline and emergency services that keep our community safe and our City running were maintained. I am happy to report that because of this approach, not one City employee was laid off as a result of the pandemic, our budget is balanced, and we are exceeding revenue expectations in many areas.”

In addition to the blueprint for “post-pause” prosperity, more specific funding for projects were also of note, including nearly $750,000 for the Say Yes, PAL, and Summer Reading Rules youth service programs, $2.4 million for Brown’s Summer Youth Employment Program, and $500,000 in economic development for the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center.

“Our use of the federal stimulus funding the City received will help keep our workforce strong, ensure we can invest in new programs going forward, and preserves the fiscally conservative approach to budgeting which sparked Buffalo’s renaissance,” Brown also noted of the budget.

The creation of a new office to handle federal stimulus funds given to the city of Buffalo will also be funded through the budget, as well as community-based violence prevention programs led by the Peacemakers organization, and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) training for city police officers.

Specifically named institutions that will also receive funding include the Albright Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo Zoo, Kleinhans Music Hall, the Buffalo History Museum, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park, the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission, and the Buffalo Employment Training Center.

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I have worked as a professional journalist for over five years now, covering the arts, music, food, politics, and culture up and down both coasts of the United States. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY

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