Mayor Byron W. Brown today applauded the Buffalo Common Council for adopting his Fiscal Year 2020- 2021 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, “The adoption of my Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget was a necessary step the City needed to take as we plan for our recovery and sustained revitalization during these difficult and challenging times. 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. This budget reflects the changed economic circumstances we face and provides a roadmap for returning us back to that positive growth momentum.”
The City’s Budget keeps intact the thousands of City employees who are critical to the region’s economic success. The middle class workers who comprise the City workforce will be an important driver of economic activity that will allow small businesses, restaurants and other retailers to recover quickly from the fallout that was caused by the necessary public health actions to slow the community spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Budget also makes critical investments in our future and critical services that will make Buffalo more resilient against future emergencies.
The Budget accomplishes this through a dual strategy. First, City Department Heads, as part of the Mayor’s new Work From Home initiative, will be able to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively because they are delivering services and programs through the use of virtual environments and electronic systems that are more accessible and less resource intensive. This is also helping the City achieve its goal of reducing the City Hall carbon footprint by 40%, which will lead to a reduction of energy costs and environmental wear and tear.
The other vital component to the recovery plan contained in the City Budget is the direct injection of federal disaster relief of $65 million that will be used to make up for the temporary shortfalls projected because the City’s usual sources of revenue have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, while at the same time some costs have gone up as part of the Mayor’s public health response to the situation. These added cost drivers include the purchase of additional PPE, enhanced screening techniques for visitors and employees and other protective measures to protect the health of employees and visitors.
As the Mayor said when he first introduced his Recommended Budget, 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. This City budget puts to rest any concerns members of our workforce may have had regarding their futures and creates a sustainable environment where people feel secure enough to spend on the local economy.
Other stimulus focused efforts contained in this budget include a freeze of the City’s tax levy at the 2019- 2020 Fiscal Year that allows 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 Budget also supports youth employment and other critical community services. This year, the 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. Having an accurate and complete count is critical to ensuring that Buffalo receives its fair share of federal funding in future years.
“I want to thank the members of the Common Council and City Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams for working with me and the members of my Administration to pass a budget that acknowledges the extraordinary challenges we presently face while at the same lays 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 important as we implement the initiatives contained in this budget and work to secure a better future for our residents and businesses.”
An electronic copy of the City Budget and supporting materials will be available online at the City’s website, www.buffalony.gov