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Common Council Accepts Budget, Begins Week of Hearings

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Common Council formally accepts Mayor Masiello's proposed city budget for 2005-2006 Monday. After lawmakers meet in special session at 2pm, a week of budget hearings will get underway.

On the surface, this would appear to be the least contentious budget process of the last several years. Though the mayor's plan reduces spending by more than $13 million from the current year's budget, there are no major layoffs. Plus, there's a slight property tax cut for both residents and businesses. But that doesn't mean all Council members are happy.

"I am not in support of any sort of fee increase until we start exploring other ideas," said Ellicott District Council Member Brian Davis, responding to plans by Masiello to raise the garbage user fee by eight percent.

Among the new ideas that Davis is suggesting is a renewed emphasis on recycling. He said could generate millions in new revenue by convincing more city residents of the need to recycle. Davis is also critical of Erie County for reneging on commitments it made to run the city's garbage transfer station.

"We have given them our parks. We gave them $1.8 million of our dollars," Davis said. "They have operated our transfer station. But then they throw it back at us, telling us 'we can't do this anymore.' Then, we're forced to raise fees."

To make it easier for city residents to voice their opinion on the budget, Council leaders will, for the first time, hold a budget hearing during evening hours. It takes place on Monday, May 9 at 6pm.

The Council has until May 22nd to approve the budget.