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City of Buffalo to borrow $18.5M to close budget gap

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Buffalo will be paying the price of the COVID-19 economic shutdown as the Common Council meets Thursday morning to borrow in order to balance this year's budget.

It has been a bad year fiscally, with the economy in tatters and tax revenues not far behind. Some of that is the city's share of sales tax. The fall in that reflects the long quarantine, with people staying at home instead of out shopping or eating at bars or restaurants.

That is why the Council is meeting in special session to approve borrowing more than $18 million to balance the budget. At the same time, Council members are looking at the fiscal year that starts July 1 and not seeing much improvement.

Finance Committee Chair Rasheed Wyatt said members have no choice.

"It's a finance debt that we need to close the year out and we need $18.5 million," he said. "So we will be taking out a loan with J.P.Morgan Chase to cover that shortfall for this year."

The new year isn't looking great either and now the city's contol board has told the Brown administration not to include, in its budget planning, the $65 million it anticipates in federal aid in yet another stimulus bill and not to expect $11 million from Seneca Gaming. The Seneca Nation lost in a court fight over the state share of some revenues but has not paid yet.

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