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Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown proposes 5 percent property tax hike

Delivers State of City & 2023 proposed budget
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Posted at 9:24 AM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 17:57:06-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown delivered his 16th annual State of the City Address Friday morning before a full house at the Northland Training Center in Buffalo.

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State of City Address at Northland Training Center.

Mayor Brown also use the event to unveil his 2023 budget proposal totaling $568 million.

Unlike past State of the City addresses, this was not be a large, splashy production and was free to those attending.

Mayor Brown, was elected last November to a fifth unprecedented term after winning in a historic write-in election, defeating opponent Indian Walton.

In his budget announcement, the Mayor announced a tax increase, according to his office, it will be five percent for residential and a 6.6 percent increase on commercial properties. Brown says this is the only second tax increase during the Mayor’s 16 years in office.

For residential property owners, the administration says for a $100,000 home, that would average out to an increase of under $50.00.

“Our new tax rate will still be less than half of what it was before I took office in 2006,” stated Mayor Brown.

While delivering his “Building a Buffalo without Boundaries" address Friday, the mayor announced several new initiatives to improve public safety, public works, snow removal, and youth safety.

Unfortunately for city taxpayers, it calls for a property tax hike and increases in the garbage user fee.

“We believe that a tax increase was necessary. We think it’s a modest increase,” Brown remarked.

But during his reelection, write-in campaign, Mayor Brown was highly critical of his opponent India Walton, when she proposed a three-percent city property tax hike.

Here is what Brown said during a mayor debate on September 9, 2021:

“In fact, she said in an interview that she's going to raise taxes by three percent. Three percent is not a modest tax increase,” stated Brown in that debate.

But Friday I asked brown how he can justify the increase after calling out Walton’s proposal.

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Mayor Brown responds to budget questions.

“I have been the architect of the tax policy for the City of Buffalo for 16-years and during that 16-year period of time, I either held the line on taxes or reduced taxes,” responded Mayor Brown.

The mayor says the high rate of inflation is to blame. Brown says tax and fee increases will generate $6.6-million and support the delivery of services taxpayers demand.

He says although the city has received $52 million in American Rescue Plan funds, that must be spent in two years. The city is also receiving a one-shot of $35 million from casino revenues, but Brown called both sets of funding "limited in scope" and it is not an "ongoing" source of revenue that the city can depend on to keep the budget balanced.

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Joe Golombek, North District Common Council Member.

“I expected a tax increase, but I didn't expect one that high,” declared Joe Golombek, North District Common Council Member.

Lawmaker Golombek reacted to the proposed tax hike saying he was surprised by how high it is.

“Do you think it's going to be a hardship for folks in your district?” Buckley asked.

“In some regards yes, in some regards no. There are certain areas in the district I think that what is it $10.38 would be affordable. I think that there are some other areas where property values have increased and it will be somewhat problematic,” replied Golobmek.

Golombek says he has not seen the budget yet and the “devil will be in the details.”

Brown will also highlight a series of “new action-oriented initiatives” and unveil “his vision for the future”.

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Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown in his State of City Address.

Public safety was also part of Friday’s announcement where the mayor announced a number of initiatives for the purchase of the “Shot Spotter System” to assist police with gunshot detection to help reduce gun violence.

“Gun violence across the city is unacceptable”, Mayor Brown stated. The mayor says the issue requires immediate action.

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Mayor Brown during his State of the City Address.

Mayor Brown also announced a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) regarding the Lasalle Metro Station's Park 'n Ride Lot for future mixed project development.

The announcement included a call for 20-new pieces of snow-fighting equipment added to the city’s snow fleet.