After helping save the city $186.6M in it’s first three years, improving Buffalo’s credit rating, creating and increasing surpluses, the control board is seeing some significant personnel changes. The News’ Brian Meyer has the story.
Brian Lipke, the board chairman whose day job is chairman and CEO of Gibraltar Industries and Robert Wilmers, chairman of M&T Bank, have both resigned from the control board. Dorothy Johnson, the board’s executive director is leaving as well. In addition to the vacancies created, three other positions which expired June 30 must be filled (2 re/appointments by Governor Spitzer and one by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapol)i.
It’s an interesting time in the fiscal history/recovery of the city. After just three years, Mayor Brown is urging the Governor to move toward making the control board’s role advisory and Buffalo Teacher’s Federation President, Philip Rumore, has said “I wouldn’t care if they all resigned, because we don’t need a control board.”
In parting, “Wilmers and Lipke warned the city still faces major financial challenges”, among them: the city’s increased reliance on state aid and the continuing decline of Buffalo’s population.
The Governor said in a meeting with Editors of The Buffalo News, “I’m not going to diminish the capacity of the control board to do what needs to be done. What I’ve said is that we need to lock in contracts…Those labor agreements must include provisions that would allow the city to save money while also giving employees raises.”
If Spitzer keeps his word, despite the Mayor’s urging to make the control board’s role less “hard” and more advisory, and despite the departure of three high-profile appointees, there’s real hope for the city’s continued fiscal recovery.
Before people support efforts to diminish the control board’s powers, Lipke said, they should ask three questions: Do they believe the fiscal progress Buffalo made could have been achieved without a control board? Second, do they think future progress can be made if the board — formally known as the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority — goes into an advisory mode? “Third, why take the chance? It appears to me that the working relationship between the [control board] and the city . . . has worked. So I think everybody should ask the question, ‘Why change it?’ ”