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Council approves Brown's budget after minor tweaks

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Buffalo has a budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 with council members making only small changes to Mayor Byron Brown's proposed spending plan.The spending plan approved Tuesday is just over $482 million and the legislative changes total $233,000. That might have been more but members quashed proposals from Councilmember David Franczyk to take money from a fund for police officer benefits and use the cash for more blue-light surveillance cameras.

The mayor's budget includes a continuing freeze on residential property taxes and a cut in business property tax, using some city reserves

Majority Leader Demone Smith says one significant change is money for a persistent public quality of life issue.

"People riding around in cars, playing X-rated music and all types of just nerve-wracking things that the Council has continually had concerns about. We were able to get sound meters which were already in the police budget. So, the police districts will be buying sound meters as well as the traffic officers," Smith says.

Smith says the budget may be more solid than it appears right now because there may be as much as $6 millions more coming in from utility savings and increased garbage fee collections. City spending for this year includes $7 million for rehabbing community centers after a spending freeze. Council President Richard Fontana says it is a real step forward for city residents of all ages, giving them an alternative to the streets.

"It's a safe place. It's a great place for them to get mentorships, do their homework, go on the computers, play sports and it's really a spot where kids grow within communities. And, it's a great place to have activities from the community, not just the youth but seniors as well," Fontana says.

The Schiller Park community center will get $1 million for major roof repairs. Fontana says it's in his district and needs the work.

Other budget changes included $100,000 more for cultural agencies and funding so City Hall meetings can be seen live on cable TV.

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.
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