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Brown budget holds the line on taxes and fees

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Mike Desmond/WBFO News
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Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says his $482.5 million budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 is slightly less than the current year while making some investments in city services.Brown says there will be money for police and fire hiring, a cut in commercial property taxes, no layoffs, and holding the line on residential property taxes in the budget he released Wednesday afternoon. It includes money for summer youth jobs, more money for seniors, and money to help the school board hire additional attendance teachers.

The mayor says he anticipates a slight cut in the city workforce with 50 job cuts through attrition. There also won't be any fee increases like the disliked garbage tax. And he says property taxes on commercial property will again go down.

"I will not raise residential property taxes this year, honoring my three-year pledge to freeze property taxes. I will also not raise any other fees, including the garbage user fee, which we have been able to hold the line on for eight consecutive budgets, or building permit fees," Brown said.

Brown says his spending plan is slightly less than the current year's budget. The mayor says the city is in better financial shape than in past years.

"I want to note that this is the first time in eight budgets that I've been able to put together that my proposed budget is actually less than the previous year's budget," Brown said.

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City of Buffalo
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Brown says the spending plan does call for $12 million to come out of the city's fund balance, one of its two piggy banks, leaving money for any contracts with city unions.

The proposed budget was accepted by the Common Council late Wednesday afternoon. Councilmembers start budget hearings Thursday morning, although few, if any, changes are expected in the spending plan.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.