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BMHA talks rock salt, as city comptroller pushes for organizational audit

Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority

City Comptroller Mark Schroeder says it's well and good that the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority has found a cheaper way to buy rock salt. It would be better if the authority had the auditors to say where the rest of its millions of dollars are going.

BMHA Acting Executive Director Gillian Brown was before the Common Council Finance Committee Tuesday to talk about changes being made inside the agency. He said a  new process for buying rock salt from the city shows there can be changes.

However, rock salt is just a small part of how the authority buys everything and from whom. There are millions of dollar at stake, as the city's network of public housing is operated, maintained and improved without much analysis of where the cash goes.

Credit Chris Caya / WBFO News
BMHA Interim Executive Director Gilliam Brown

The committee was more interested in Schroeder's proposal for an audit of the BMHA, something he has been pushing against the opposition of Brown and Mayor Byron Brown. The mayor appoints most of the members of the authority board.

"There has not been an internal audit function at the BMHA in six years," Schroeder said. "I'd like to know how they explained that. They're explaining rock salt for $3,500, but they should explain why they do not have an internal audit function."

Credit Michael Mroziak / WBFO News
Buffalo City Comptroller Mark Schroeder continues to get push-back on an audit from Mayor Byron Brown and the BMHA.

Schroeder said the media has become auditors.

"They are investigating this situation within the BMHA and it's almost like the reporters are doing a mini-audit, of which I appreciate," Schroeder said. "And, so, it's concerning to me the BMHA I've known for some time, it is the Wild, Wild West and they need to be tamed."

Schroeder said he did the same in 2012 when he forced the Council to have controls on how it spent discretionary money, saying that also had been the Wild, Wild West.

"The City of Buffalo, then, might be in the situation where they would have to pay for it, but at the end of the day, it needs to be done," he said, "and it will set the pace for the future, so that the BMHA is operating properly for the tenants and, most importantly, for the tenants and the taxpayers."

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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