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Mayor Brown releases 2014-2015 recommended city budget

Mayor Brown’s proposed budget is $504.5 million, a 1.9% increase over the current budget.

The budget is intended to lower the commercial (by 1.7% ) and residential (by .05% ) tax rates, supplemented by the building of over 1300 residential units (thus increasing the tax base).

“Buffalo’s economy is quickly transforming and this balanced and structurally sound budget proposal builds on our development activity and job creation by making critical quality of life investments, while shifting the focus to increased residential growth,” said Mayor Brown.  “In this spending plan, I honor my pledge to not raise property taxes by further lowering them.  I want to send a strong message to the business community, and 10,000 new and future job holders who will be working in Buffalo, that our city is a great place to work, purchase property and live.”

According to a press release, budget highlights include:

PUBLIC SAFETY

  • Through law enforcement and other quality of life initiatives funded in this budget, the city will make continued investments that build on the success of the Buffalo Police Department’s 24% reduction of crime throughout the City since 2005.
  • This plan will provide another commitment of $1 million for the purchase of new police vehicles…adding to the 49 already purchased vehicles…as Buffalo continues to replace the entire aging fleet.
  • The plan also adds a new police and fire class, upgrades the fire dispatch system and continues funding the resources needed to address and eliminate areas of high crime, illegal guns, gang activity and drug trafficking.

STRONGER NEIGHBORHOODS

  • Buffalo’s ongoing commitment to stabilizing and improving neighborhoods continues.
  • This plan creates a pro-active Strong Neighborhoods Task Force that will address problem properties by cracking down on the top problem property owners in Buffalo.
  • It also introduces a new mobile application that will provide city residents with improved access to reporting neighborhood concerns.
  • Funding has also been included for a Cement Finisher Apprentice program to provide training to Buffalo residents for this trade and further improve the safety, beauty and economic vitality of Buffalo’s neighborhoods.
  • The city will also invest $8.5 million from a variety of funding sources to conduct approximately 560 demolitions, adding to the already over 5,000 demolitions completed since 2006.
  • Funding has also been added to create an Office of New Americans as immigration continues to rise in Buffalo.  This will assist these new residents transition into the community and be a strategic focus in growing Buffalo’s population.

YOUTH & EDUCATION INVESTMENTS

  • The budget also invests in Buffalo’s future with programs to support youth through job readiness and educational initiatives.
  • In addition to the $70.3 million provided to Buffalo Schools, which is more than 52% of the property tax levy, this budget includes $200,000 for Say Yes Buffalo, which is part of a new $800,000 four year commitment, bringing the city’s total Say Yes investment to $1.3 million.
  • In addition, this spending plan continues $400,000 in support for the instrumental music program in the Buffalo Public Schools, along with continued funding in the amount of $171,000 for the hiring of additional Attendance Teachers.
  • This spending plan also increased the city’s commitment to the summer youth employment program by $100,000.  This brings total investment to $1.2 million, the highest amount in the general city budget in history.  This will provide approximately 1,400 jobs to young people.

FUNDING FOR COMMUNITY SERVICES AND CULTURAL SUPPORT

  • This budget also includes a substantial investment in community services, providing funding for the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission, the Police Athletic League, Americorps and a Marketing Campaign designed to attract new residents and businesses to Buffalo.
  • Buffalo remains committed to providing world-class cultural attractions. This budget includes $250,000 in competitive grants for arts and other community groups. It also proposes a $60,000 funding match for the curator of public art position at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
  • Support will also be provided to retain a consultant to attract more film and television projects to Buffalo, as well as investment and training for more city residents to work in this industry.
  • Funding has also been allocated to The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, with continued support for Peacemakers, The Buffalo History Museum, Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo Place and Kleinhans Music Hall.
  • In simple terms, for a residential taxpayer, the annual tax rate will be cut .05% this year, a 15.7% reduction since 2006.  By cutting the tax rate again, city residents with a home assessed at $100,000 will save $309.
  • For commercial property owners, the tax rate will be reduced by 1.7%, a 29.6% cut since 2006.   In simple terms, a $100,000 commercial structure will save the property owner $987.

“As Mayor of Buffalo, I present a sound spending plan that recognizes the difficult budgetary challenges, while at the same time, continues to build on the momentum and improve the quality of life that our residents have come to expect and deserve in the City of Buffalo, said Mayor Brown in closing.  “I believe that my proposed Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Budget is a fair, reasonable and prudent fiscal plan for the coming year. Let’s continue to work together for an even stronger, safer and more prosperous Buffalo.”

 

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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