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Mayor: 'I don't see how our local governments can recover' without federal assistance

Mayor Byron Brown conducts his daily briefing Thursday.

Faced with the revenue ripple effects of the COVID-19 crisis, the City of Buffalo is looking at spending cuts with little time. The city fiscal year ends June 30 and revenues are down by millions.

The city has been hit with the effects of  the revenue downturns, like all other levels of government. In his daily briefing Thursday, Mayor Byron Brown said Washington cash is desperately needed, both to help budget balancing and to provide funding for infrastructure projects.

"We have processed a list of priority projects. We are looking at things that might have to be cut, if that becomes necessary, and we are preparing projects to be ready, should there be a major infrastructure stimulus bill," Brown said.

He sees the same problems for other levels of government because they have been hit by revenue losses and rising costs, as well.

"The only way that municipalities Buffalo's size and smaller, as well as others, are going to be able to recover is through getting significant federal assistance. Without that, I don't see how our local governments can recover," Brown said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has spoken of a $10 billion hit to state finances from the virus. The governor's extension of New York Pause drew praise from Brown, who said the rules are saving lives.

"We learned today that our new normal will continue, now that Governor Cuomo has extended the New York Pause executive order until at least May 15," Brown said. "We have to continue to stay the course and maintain the physical distancing strategy to prevent our health system from being overwhelmed. Fortunately, that hasn't happened yet, which means that this adjustment to our daily lives is working."

Brown said the coronavirus is having a disparate impact on different portions of the city, despite efforts of parents, students and teachers in city schools to keep the students at school work, with the problems of not having computer access at home or in the library with that needed to study.

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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