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Control Board Says Try Again

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority wants Mayor Anthony Masiello to fine tune his four-year fiscal recovery plan one more time.

That was the decision of the Control Board following a four hour meeting Tuesday.

Board chairman Thomas Baker told the mayor his revised financial proposal was "not a plan," and that it wasn't balanced because it contained a more than eight million dollar gap for the current fiscal year.

Baker said the mayor failed to plug the gap and now needs to ask the Buffalo Common Council for a "declaration of need," allowing the board to borrow money.

"This plan needs to be a balanced plan, and you need to do a declaration of need. Then we need to follow the rest of the process through," said Baker. "And if that is the participation of the Common Council, that's what it is."

Baker added, "if they want to go on record and hold up the process, so be it. Then we will have to determine what the next step is. But what we don't have here is a plan."

But a very frustrated Mayor Masiello disagreed with Baker, saying there was a plan before the board.

"If the issue right now is $8.2 million dollars to fill the gap - which we've gone from $55 million to $8.2 million with these recommendations, then so be it," said Masiello. "I'm the Mayor of the city of Buffalo. I'm going to issue a Certificate of Need. Accept this plan and let's move on!"

Finally, after four hours, the board voted nine to zero giving the Mayor until October 15 to close the current budget gap.

Masiello is also required to clean up gaps in what are called the "out years" of the plan so it is in compliance with Control Board legislation.

The board will then approve or disapprove the plan on either October 21 or October 22.

Despite his frustrations, Masiello said he believes he is a step closer to final approval.

"The last thing that I wanted to happen is we walk out of this room with a no consensus on what has to be done," said Masiello. "I think what we walked out of this room with was a major consensus and a buy-in from the Control Board on the parameters on what has to be done. We have to move forward on that."

Masiello said he is concerned about the Common Council's support of the recovery plan.

By November 1 it calls for the elimination of 3o firefighters and closing two fire companies, which would require Council approval.

Masiello said in order for the city to achieve fiscal health, everyone must "buy into the plan."