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Buffalo Common Council approves mayor's budget proposal

City of Buffalo

The City of Buffalo has a budget for the fiscal year starting in July, with few changes from Mayor Byron Brown's proposal. Common Council members on Thursday approved a $535 million budget in the isolation of a pandemic.

"We have not laid one person off," said the South District's Chris Scanlon. "The City of Buffalo has not laid off one person as a result of this pandemic. Not a single service has been cut."

It's an essentially balanced budget, much different from last year, when the city approved a budget with a $65 million deficit on Brown's premise that Washington would throw money at the revenue problems of local governments across the country.

"Hard work sometimes pays off. Sometimes it doesn't. But, boy-oh-boy, luck sure does," said the North District's Joe Golombek. "Who would have thought that the Democrats would capute the presidency, the Congress, the Senate and be able to put together a package of $300 and some million dollars for the City of Buffalo?"

The budget slightly cuts spending for the Police Department because of supply cuts and new officers coming on the force at lower salaries than retiring veterans. Council President Darius Pridgen said plans to alter the way the department works, like social workers for mental health crises, could not be put together in time for the start of the budget year.

"Specialists being available during some of the most busy hours, which is usually, when we look at the data, from 5 o'clock to about 1 o'clock. We did not get that in this budget because of the complexity to find out what it would cost," Pridgen said. "Also, it's a police union issue, not issue, but police union contract, that would have to be worked through."

Pridgen said there is a written deal to put this all together, including how much it will cost.

There will be plenty of money, with Washington, DC to send more than $300 million from the most recent stimulus bill. For individual councilmembers, that will yield $1.35 million, divided equally, for neighborhood inititatives like speed bumps, pavement markings and crosswalks. That also would allow for the school zone speed cameras, now the subject of a lawsuit, to be abolished on Tuesday.

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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