Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget Message from City of Buffalo on Vimeo.
Mayor Byron W. Brown today introduced his Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Recommended Budget. The $519 million spending plan will keep the City workforce intact, make critical investments to protect the health and safety of residents, positions the City to implement its Work From Home initiative, provides tax relief to residents and supports youth employment.
Mayor Brown said, “My Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Recommended Budget reflects the difficult challenges our community is facing while also laying a foundation for future economic recovery and continuing innovation. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Buffalo’s economic and fiscal outlooks were bright and moving in the right direction. Investment throughout the entire City was up, unemployment was down by over 50% from the 2008 Recession and for the second year in a row the City was going to end the fiscal year with a projected surplus.”
The Recommended Budget acknowledges the very different circumstances the City is now facing. COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on human life, as well as an economic toll that has propelled states, cities, counties, and school districts across the country into uncharted territory. The steps the State and local government took to help slow the coronavirus’ spread and keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed were difficult but necessary. The Recommended Budget looks toward the future and lays a strong foundation for an accelerated recovery that keeps our City workforce intact, continues to provide critical services to residents and makes investments that will help make our municipal facilities more resilient in any emergency.
The City will accomplish this through a dual strategy. First, City Department Heads, as part of the Work From Home initiative, are developing plans for delivering services, retooling their processes in a modernized way that will sustain Buffalo in a perpetual “new normal”, and reignite the local economy by becoming an Intelligent- Smart City. This will also help the City achieve its goal of reducing the City Hall carbon footprint by 40%.
The other vital component to the recovery plan will be a direct injection of federal disaster relief of $65 million that will be used to make up for the shortfalls projected in the City’s various forms of revenue and due to the expenses incurred to address COVID-19. Federal relief is necessary to ensure that the members of the City’s workforce, who are also residents, continue to receive their pay so that they can help speed our recovery through spending at local businesses, restaurants, and in rents, mortgage payments and taxes. By creating a sustainable environment where people feel secure in their economic future, this budget will help to create a better future for our entire community.
If the federal government does not provide relief in a timely or sufficient manner, the City of Buffalo will be forced to make painful decisions that will impact essential city services and greatly harm the economic advances we have made in Buffalo over the last decade. The City is prepared to borrow in order to meet its financial obligations and keep our workforce and services whole. This is a less desirable option and will require working with our partners in State government to achieve the desired net positive impact, but the Administration is committed to doing whatever it takes to protect our employees, residents and their families during the greatest economic challenge any of us have ever faced.
A freeze of the City’s tax levy at the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year will allow the City to reduce tax rates because of the updated property tax revaluation. Homestead rates will go from $18.47 per $1,000 of assessed value to $9.99 per $1,000. Non-Homestead rates will go from $29.49 per $1,000 of assessed value to $16.75 per $1,000. As a result, most residents and business owners’ property taxes will either stay the same as last year or be reduced. The tax levy freeze will help reduce any financial stress residents and business owners may have been experiencing.
The Recommended Budget also promotes youth employment. Mayor’s Summer Youth employees and interns will be hired as part of a Census Outreach Corps to help residents complete their 2020 Census questionnaires, to ensure that Buffalo receives its fair share of federal funding in future years. This effort is slated to begin in July.
“I am looking forward to working with my partners in government, at the federal and state levels, as well as City Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams and the members of the Common Council to pass a budget that acknowledges the extraordinary times we are all in while laying a solid foundation for our City’s future,” said Mayor Brown. “Their ongoing communication and cooperation, which has been very much appreciated during this emergency, will be especially critical now and I look forward to working with them on the extraordinary challenges we face.”
“I would like to thank Deputy Mayor Betsey Ball, Commissioner of Administration and Finance Donna Estrich, and the members of her staff, including the Director of the Budget Jessica Brown, Director of Policy Rob Mayer, Deputy Chief Financial Officer Halimah Madyun and Raymour Nosworthy, for their excellent work. I also want to thank the members of the City’s Fiscal sub-cabinet, co-chaired by Commissioner Kevin Helfer, and all of the Department heads in the City who worked diligently to construct a budget that is fiscally sound, balanced and designed to help speed our economic recovery over the coming year,” Mayor Brown added.
An electronic copy of the City Budget and supporting materials are available here.