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MAYORAL ROUNDTABLES: India Walton and Byron Brown answer questions from seven WBFO reporters in two one hour specials.

Mayor Brown unveils $508.6M city budget, 1% smaller than last year

City of Buffalo

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has unveiled his $509 million spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Common Council President Darius Pridgen calls it a "conservative" spending plan. It calls for a slight cut in the residential property tax and a slight rise in the business levy.

The budget calls for more new cops and firefighters—two classes at the Police Academy and one at the Fire Academy—more street repairs, and a plan to buy the city's street lighting network from National Grid and convert to LED lights.

Credit City of Buffalo

Brown said the budget builds on the past for the future.

"The $508.6 million spending plan is $4.9 million less than last year's budget, he said. "This is a approximately a 1% decrease, reflecting the cost efficiencies we achieved and the growth of our regional economy."

Credit City of Buffalo

Another sign of economic growth is expiration of some past development tax breaks—PILOTS or payments in lieu of taxes—resulting in more than $580,000 coming into the city treasury from projects that have long paid little in property taxes.

Brown said the budget does not reflect the city's property reassessment, since that will not take effect in this fiscal year.

South District Councilmember Chris Scanlon likes the plan to take over street lights.

Credit City of Buffalo

"It's a quality of life issue. It's a residential safety issue. The process right now, you need to track down the actual number of the light pole and send it to the utility. It takes a little bit of time," Scanlon said. "Now, hopefully, once we transition to this process, we'll be able to handle everything in house and reach out directly to Public Works and say this light pole is over right over in this area and they'll know, once they get there and the light pole is missing, which one it is."

The city will pair with the New York State Power Authority to make the purchase, with talks starting soon. They could take a while.

Budget hearings begin Monday in Common Council chambers beginning at 10 a.m. with Buffalo Public schools. Other departments will follow throughout the day. Budget workshops begin Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the same order and will continue, as needed through Thursday.

Credit City of Buffalo