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Common Council Chambers to host Budget Proposal Day Tuesday evening

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Michael Mroziak, WBFO
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The Buffalo Common Council will host Tuesday evening what activists say is a first-ever City Budget Proposal Day. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., members of the community will be welcome to provide input for how to allocate a small fraction of an estimated $500 million spending plan.

Representatives of several community advocacy groups, including PUSH Buffalo, Partnership for the Public Good, Coalition for Economic Justice, Voice Buffalo, Open Buffalo and the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, gathered Monday at the PUSH Grant Street Neighborhood Center to encourage members of the public to attend and bring ideas to lawmakers. 

"Our members are going to be making an ask of Council President Pridgen, and the entire Common Council, to include in the budget proposal a $5 million request, or one percent of the city's budget, to be decided upon through a participatory budgeting process, where residents will come together to propose ideas, develop proposals and ultimately vote on how money for community projects will be spent," said Brian Borncamp of the Clean Air Coalition.

The requests and suggestions brought forward Monday ranged from focusing on improving public school graduation rates to public safety and quality of life concerns. Holly Nowak, speaking for the cause of those who rely on public transportation options, suggests more resources need to be dedicated to cleaning up sidewalks and bus stops during the winter months.

"There was a pilot done a couple of years ago to have municipal snow removal on the sidewalks. That needs to be expanded," she said. "There needs to be more done to make sure people are able to get to where they need to go safely."

Those calling for participatory budgeting say it restores some of the democracy in the budget-making process.

"It means individuals have a right to vote for services and things they need in their community," said Della Miller, one of the individuals who gathered Monday. "We have to find those things, tell our politicians, let them know this is what we need."

Tuesday evening's session will be held in Common Council Chambers, beginning at 5:30, on the 13th floor of City Hall.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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