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Council members critical of proposed federal funding cuts

Council President David Franczyk

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Three members of the Buffalo Common Council challenged the Western New York congressional delegation today to fight for funding slated for cutbacks in President Obama's fiscal 2012 budget.

Council President David Franczyk, Delaware District Council Member Michael LoCurto and the Niagara District's David Rivera said cuts to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program will affect the city's ability to tear down dilapidated homes and improve the city's infrastructure.

"If we lose this critical CDBG funding, our community will be devastated," Franczyk said.

The Council members also said cuts to the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and the Great Lakes Restoration Fund would have "detrimental" effects as well. They're critical that the federal government appears to have "huge pots of money" for the long-stalled Peace Bridge plaza project but not enough to provide heating assistance to the poor.

"We need our representatives to fight for the City and region's best interest, and to stand with people," LoCurto said. "We have residents literally under threat of being left out in the cold and key city services at risk of being defunded."

Rivera, whose district includes the Peace Bridge and its customs plaza, argued the economic case for the plaza expansion has not been sufficiently made.

"After all these years, there are still lots of doubts and questions about the expansion project," Rivera said. "We should not be focusing on it while seniors and families are at risk of losing services, including heating assistance."