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City of Buffalo Press Releases

Posted on: May 2, 2019

Mayor Brown Presents On-Time and Responsible Fiscal Year 2019-2020 City of Buffalo Budget

Budget Press Conf May 2019

Mayor Byron W. Brown today presented his 14TH on-time, balanced City of Buffalo Budget. The Fiscal Year 2019-2020 recommended budget focuses on bold investments guided by equity, opportunity to further promote economic development and increase Buffalo’s capacity to make critical investments in City services. This budget does not rely on non-recurring revenue sources, is right-sized to reflect the City’s needs and projected growth, and employs a series of cost efficiency strategies to realize systemic savings.

“Since day one, my Administration has focused on making Buffalo a City of opportunity for all people that promotes our diversity as a strategy for building an economically inclusive City where every resident has a path to success,” said Mayor Brown. “Today, I am presenting my FY 2019-2020 Annual Budget for the City of Buffalo. The $508.6 million spending plan is $4.9 million less than in FY 18-19. This is an approximately 1% decrease, reflecting the cost efficiencies and savings we achieved and the growth of our regional economy. This year’s spending plan is structurally sound, continues my fiscally conservative budgeting practices and does not rely on non-recurring revenue sources.”

He continued, “This year’s budget also builds on last year’s budget of rightsizing our finances to reflect the City’s needs and projected growth while also setting the stage to make long-term investments that will make our City smarter, stronger, safer and more equitable.”

“In my February 2019 State of the City Address, I laid out a bold plan of action that will ensure Buffalo’s vibrancy now and into the new decade to come. My budget allocates the resources into critical areas that will improve our environment, enhance public safety, improve City services and deploy technology in a way that improves government efficiency and the quality of life for residents.”

This plan continues to prioritize investments in innovative approaches to delivering high-quality and equitable services for residents, and upholds the City’s strong record of responsible, conservative fiscal management. Guided by his commitment to expand opportunities and leverage new resources to tackle the problems of inequality, injustice and insecurity in a manner that leaves no resident behind, Mayor Brown’s $508 million plan supports his long- standing record for delivering a balanced, structurally-sound budget with bold ideas.

“My recommended budget holds the line on residential property taxes and increases commercial property taxes modestly. Keeping residential property taxes low is key to ensuring that Buffalo remains an equitable, affordable, and more just City that everyone has an opportunity to live in,” said Mayor Brown.

When Mayor Brown first took office in 2006, Buffalo was a very different city: it was under a hard control board, taxes were high, and Buffalo’s credit ratings were at historic lows. The Brown Administration developed a plan to change Buffalo’s economic outlook and put the City back on a path towards continual growth.


“My Administration has spent countless hours listening to residents and businesses, and studying, analyzing and assessing our challenges to come up with smart solutions that improve our quality of life, and I’m confident that this carefully-crafted and thoughtful budget and 4-year financial plan will continue to help ensure that Buffalo’s progress reaches everyone,” said Mayor Brown. “2020 is approaching - a new decade with new obstacles to overcome. We must keep moving forward together and continue to build on our progress to spur growth, create more opportunities for residents, and maintain the confidence the rest of the world has shown in Buffalo’s potential. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Buffalo Common Council to adopt this budget, which will strengthen our City for all who live here, and for future generations to come.”

Last year’s budget appropriated $17 million for past and current payments from the Seneca Nation’s Casino. With the conclusion of the State’s arbitration process and the anticipated favorable ruling by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, those funds will be collected so this year’s budget anticipates a return to normalized annual revenues from the Seneca Nation and therefore reduces the appropriation to $11 million.

This year’s budget also reduces the amount of revenue projected to be realized from the sale of City owned assets. The City’s successful sale of assets, like the former Police Headquarters at 74 Franklin Street, has significantly reduced the number of these non-recurring revenue opportunities. Therefore, the budget has been adjusted appropriately to reflect a reliance on other mechanisms to achieve a balanced fiscal plan.

Before delivering his budget highlights, Mayor Brown recognized the work and contribution of Donna Estrich, Commissioner of Administration, Finance, Policy and Urban Affairs, Members of his Fiscal Sub-Cabinet, as well as City Commissioners and Directors, who provided valuable input to help shape this fiscally responsible budget that keeps Buffalo on its positive growth path.


For the 14TH consecutive year, Mayor Byron W. Brown recommended an on-time and fiscally responsible budget for the City of Buffalo.

The proposed Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Budget is balanced, totaling $508 million, a 1% decrease from last year’s budget, which represents savings achieved through sound fiscal management and a continually growing economy. This year’s budget decrease stems primarily from the elimination of non-recurring revenues, plus savings achieved through efficiencies and technology. This budget:

  • Reflects the growth in our regional economy which is demonstrated by the 4% growth in the City’s sales tax collections
  • Estimates $3.6 million for sales tax collections and an additional $1.8 million in new sales tax revenues that will be generated from the State’s new internet sales tax. The total revenue anticipated from sales taxes in this year’s budget is $5.4 million
  • Continues to make targeted new investments that make a difference in the lives of Buffalo residents
  • The City of Buffalo continues to work with its partners at all levels of government to ensure that the City receives its equitable share of resources for its continued growth and progress


The City of Buffalo’s future depends on investing in the right priorities, which is exactly what this budget does. Buffalo is making targeted, smart investments that improve peoples’ lives.

  • After keeping fees low, cutting commercial property tax rates and lowering residential property tax rates since taking office, this recommended budget continues to realign the revenue generated from taxes and fees to reflect Buffalo’s strong economic position
  • This budget reflects the Brown Administration’s continued commitment to a conservative fiscal policy that encourages growth and opportunity
  • As promised in last year’s budget, the City entered into a number of private-public partnerships to enhance public safety, improve infrastructure and improve City services. TRUST Buffalo has secured charitable contributions


from some of our region’s largest employers and philanthropic organizations totaling over $3.1 million to date over three years. The City’s major contributors include: the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for $1.5 million; Kaleida Health for $267,500; M&T Bank for $264,000; Rich Family Foundation for $400,000; Blue Wireless for $450,000; Pegula Sports and Entertainment for $250,000; as well as the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, and Green Machine

  • Also as promised, the Brown Administration kept currently implemented fees flat for residents and businesses
  • The City will receive $3.1 million in PILOT payments, which is a decrease from the previous year because more properties are coming back online and paying their regular property tax, representing new tax payments of $580,000
  • The City will pursue the sale of the parking ramp at the former Women and Children’s Hospital site

Property Taxes

  • In this balanced budget, the City will hold the line on residential property taxes, with a slight increase on commercial properties, to generate about $2.5 million
  • Since Mayor Brown took office, residents have experienced an average annual savings of $248 in their property taxes for a property assessed at $100,000
  • A comparison between Buffalo and other cities in upstate New York continues to show that, even with this new tax structure, Buffalo is still lower or on par with its peers.


Supports Safe and Livable Neighborhoods

  • $1.26 million is being invested in the Buffalo Police Department for the full implementation of the Buffalo Police Department’s Body Cam program, the process for arming officers with TASERS and for replacing police vehicles in the fleet
  • Funding for 2 new classes, totaling 75 Buffalo police officers, to help the City further cut down on overtime and enhance its community policing initiatives
  • Funding for a new class of 40 firefighters, which will continue to help reduce overtime and meet the minimum staffing requirements
  • Continue to allocate $150,000 in funding to Buffalo Peacemakers and $100,000 to the Police Athletic League of Buffalo

Enhances support for City Youth, Education and Quality of Life for Residents

  • In an effort to further support educational initiatives, this spending plan continues to provide $70.8 million to Buffalo Public Schools – which represents close to 50% of the City’s property tax levy
  • This spending plan also allocates another $500,000 to Buffalo’s Say Yes to Education, bringing the Brown Administration’s total investment in this program to $2.8 million
  • In addition to the City’s ongoing commitment to Say Yes to Education and the Buffalo Public Schools, this budget commits an additional $125,000 to BPS/Say Yes for its Summer Enrichment Program for Buffalo Public School students
  • Increased funding, totaling $1.9 million, for Mayor Brown’s Summer Youth Internship and Employment program
  • Continues to build on the Brown Administration’s nearly $66 million capital investment in parks Citywide, which will be enhanced by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation’s commitment of $50 million to transform the City’s LaSalle Park into a world-class waterfront park, which will be renamed Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park. The Foundation grant includes $40 million for construction activity and $10 million to support the broader efforts for long-term sustainability


  • The Foundation also made a $1.6 million commitment over 3 years, to support the City’s Department of Public Works for planning related to the park re-design
  • Continues to fund other existing programs and initiatives that have become signature events, as well as funding for our Arts, Cultural and Community organizations
  • A new Short-Term Rental Registration fee (the Airbnb fee) will provide the City with the necessary resources to better protect hosts and their neighbors
  • The City is increasing its illegal dumping fines and increasing the monetary reward for reports of dumping that lead to fines and convictions, in order to protect the public health and environmental integrity of our neighborhoods

Improves the Delivery of City Services

Technology is changing our world at an unprecedented pace. This spending plan includes details related to:

  • The City of Buffalo entered into a cost-efficiency agreement to consolidate the City of Buffalo and Buffalo Public Schools data centers, that will result in a savings of $150,000
  • The City will launch a new online payment portal enabling residents to more easily pay their property taxes and user fees online, set up a payment schedule and schedule electronic reminders, and will result in a savings of $280,000 for the City of Buffalo
  • The City of Buffalo is entering into a pilot program that will install GPS technology into Streets and Sanitation vehicles to enable the City and DPW to analyze the data in order to maximize route efficiencies
  • $350,000 is being allocated to the Department of Public Works, Parks and Streets for its spot pavement, crack repair and striping program

Climate Refuge City

  • The City is seeking a partnership with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to acquire the City’s street lighting system from National Grid and convert it to energy-efficient LED lighting. This transformative project will result in an immediate savings over $1 million and reduce CO2 emissions by generating a kilowatt hour savings of over 16.5 million hours
  • The City passed a resolution to begin the certification process for New York State’s Climate Smart Communities program, this will make Buffalo eligible for over $8 million in funding from State grants to support energy efficiency and environmental efforts

Gil C. Quiniones, President and CEO of NYPA, said, “NYPA looks forward to the opportunity to become a partner with the City of Buffalo when it begins this exciting effort to acquire the City’s street lights system and convert to energy efficient LED lighting. During Mayor Brown’s tenure, Buffalo has become a leader in helping to implement Governor Cuomo’s aggressive clean energy and environmental policies. With this innovative initiative, Buffalo will be a model for other cities that want to achieve long-term cost savings while also helping preserve the environment. I applaud Mayor Brown for his vision and welcome the privilege to work with one of New York’s most vibrant cities on this transformative lighting project.”

The Buffalo Common Council must return the Budget to Mayor Brown by May 22, 2019. Mayor Brown may then veto only additions made by the Council. By City Charter, the Budget becomes official by June 8th.

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