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Council Has Questions about Economic Development

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Buffalo Common Council members are digging into Mayor Masiello's proposed budget that calls for across the board spending cuts. Lawmakers opened budget hearings Thursday morning, one day after Masiello delivered his "no frills" spending plan.

At the start of budget hearings, the City's Office of Strategic Planning was questioned about the future of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation. Earlier this week BERC president Alan DeLisle announced his resignation. He's leaving for a job in North Carolina. That has raised specualtion that changes are in store for the BERC.

Council members want to know if the economic development orgnaization will be phased into the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. Council President James Pitts says he would be opposed to such a merger. Pitts and other lawmakers say they're concerned about the future city projects like the Union Ship Canal. Strategic Planning Executive Director, Joseph Ryan says there have been some discussions, but no decision has been made at this point.

"The mayor hasn't proposed giving up anything," Ryan asserted.

Council president Pitts says he's concerned that there are some regionalism efforts that would "dismantle" the city.

"We seem to be losing or, at least giving over, to a group of individuals that don't care about the city," Pitts said. "They were part of a group that went to Albany and said don't give the city any money. Yet they want to take over the largess that the city can provide, in this case the block grant."

Budget hearings continued Friday at City Hall. But Monday, should be the most watched. That's when Buffalo Police and Fire are scheduled to appear to discuss proposed job cuts and the closing of three fire companies. Some council members say they will to their best to try and restore cuts within public safety.