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As city revenues fail to materialize, Mayor Brown says no to raising taxes

Millions in the latest budget comes from the ARP
Byron Brown presents the cities capital budget
Posted at 6:08 PM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 18:23:14-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Mayor Byron W. Brown unveiled the city’s 2022 capital budget Friday of $25 million to be dispersed across several city agencies.

According to the mayor’s office, these investments are critical for making up lost revenue many entities experienced because of pandemic shutdowns.

The new capital budget comes as Buffalo struggled to balance several of the previous fiscal budgets.

Buffalo has had shortfalls in eight of the last 11 budgets, being forced to use over $100 million in reserve funding.

The city’s latest plans include budgeting money from the American Rescue Plan to stabilize their operating budgets.

Democratic mayoral nominee India B. Walton says these budgets include imaginary streams of revenue that continue to result in spending down the city’s reserves.

"The city should be finding ethical sources of revenue like expanding our tax base, like applying for grants outside of entitlements in order to balance the budget and we should have reserves in case of emergencies like the pandemic," said Walton.

Mayor Brown says increasing property taxes, even when previous revenues failed to materialize, would be a mistake. Walton has said she would raise taxes between one-half and one percent.

“That would cause taxes to go up for every homeowner, for every business owner and it would cause the rents to go up for renters all across the City of Buffalo. Now as we’re coming out of a pandemic, Ms. Walton’s plans to raise our taxes are misguided," said Brown.

In a report this year - the City of Buffalo’s Comptroller's Office warned funding from the American Rescue Plan is not sustainable long term.

$50.4 million of the latest budget comes directly from the rescue plan.

“We can’t always expect the federal and state government to bail us out," added Walton.

“Ms. Walton just absolutely doesn't know what she’s talking about and every time she speaks, she shows she doesn't know what she’s talking about," Brown said.

This past summer, the Buffalo Common Council approved policy that requires the city to have 45 days worth of operating expenses available in a fund.