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No Tax, User Fee Increases in Mayor's Proposed Budget

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – For the first time since a control board began overseeing Buffalo's finances, there will no increases in property taxes and the controversial garbage user fee in the next city budget.

Last year, property taxes dropped slightly while the garbage user fee increased eight percent. In 2004, both property taxes and the user fee went up -- the user fee by 20 percent.

So, Mayor Byron Brown was justifiably proud yesterday in announcing that his first budget marks the first time since 2001 that neither taxes nor the fee are going up.

"It does provide for a modest tax reduction for most property owners," Brown said. "It does not increase the garbage user fee, which we know citizens have expressed concerns about over the years."

And Brown's four year plan, which was submitted Monday with the new budget, projects keeping property taxes where they are through the 2009-2010.

The fact that there will be no increases in the coming year was welcomed by some seniors at the Kensington-Bailey Community Center. But Shirley Hall said she would prefer to see her garbage user fee lowered.

"I know we have to pay to live (here)," Hall said. "But I would like to see it reduced. My money is reduced. So, I'd like to see other things reduced."

Ann Murphy, another senior spending the morning at the community center, said she, too, is pleased her garbage user fee won't be going up. She says, "we pay enough."

Mayor Brown says most homeowners would see about a one percent drop in their property taxes in 2006-2007. The rate for businesses would decline by about 3.5 percent.