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Mayor Brown Releases 2011-12 City Budget | News

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Mayor Brown Releases 2011-12 City Budget
News, Politics
Mayor Brown Releases 2011-12 City Budget

$462 Million Spending Plan Provides Tax Certainty, A Business Tax Cut, Funding for New Police and Firefighter Classes, and Maintains City Service Levels

BUFFALO–Mayor Byron W. Brown today released his recommended 2011-12 City Budget, which will be delivered to the Buffalo Common Council.

At a total of $462,329,677, the Mayor’s recommended budget is an increase of just 1.0% over 2010-11 budgeted levels, provides property tax relief and resources for youth employment; enhanced public safety; neighborhood stabilization and revitalization; arts and cultural organizations; and environmental sustainability.

“This budget reflects my continued commitment to prudent and conservative budgeting, which is enabling Buffalo to financially withstand a series of extensive fiscal challenges caused by a deep national recession and slow economic recovery, as well as the state fiscal crisis,” said Mayor Brown. “Nonetheless, the budget I am presenting maintains critical services and fulfills a commitment I made to city taxpayers to provide tax certainty, in addition to allowing for a 1.3% business tax cut. Fulfilling my commitment to reduce the property tax burden is especially important during these difficult economic times, as businesses seek to survive and thrive and many city residents affected by the recession struggle to balance their own household budgets.”

“As Mayor, I have already reduced the property tax rate by 15% and will now provide every business and homeowner with tax certainty. Under this promise of tax certainty, property tax bills for homeowners and businesses will remain substantially the same for tax years 2012, 2013, and 2014,” said Mayor Brown.

“The three-year property tax freeze I announced in February during my State of the City address is reflected in our financial plan and sends the message to city residents, businesses, and those considering an investment in Buffalo, that Buffalo is committed to providing a stable and affordable environment in which to live, work, and invest,” said Mayor Brown.

A major new initiative is included to spur a public-private partnership aimed to improve educational outcomes, increase high school graduation rates, grow college attendance, stem population loss, and attract new families to Buffalo.  Modeled after “Say Yes to Education” and “Promise” programs across the nation, from Baltimore to Kalamazoo, this initiative is funded with $500,000 in city funds over a three-year period.

“The primary objective of this new educational initiative will be to provide services designed to help increase high school graduation rates and to assure that each and every student in the Buffalo Public Schools has access to a college education,” said Mayor Brown.

Investments in city neighborhoods, public safety, and the overall quality of life, at a time when states and the nation itself are making or contemplating significant service and employee reductions, is possible in this budget because of past and present conservative fiscal practices.

“During good economic times, as our property values rose and our state aid grew, my administration chose to continue to budget conservatively and spend prudently. This sound fiscal management allowed us to accumulate reserves, while at the same time reducing the overall tax burden on city residents.”

“As Mayor of the City of Buffalo, I did my part this year in tightening our belts and contributing to the state’s recovery. With the state now on more firm financial footing, my priority as Mayor in the upcoming years will be to aggressively lobby Albany to restore state aid and lessen state-driven, or mandated, costs,” said Mayor Brown. “Without Albany’s help, these costs will ultimately become unaffordable. I ask that the state partners with Buffalo to provide the resources that will help to continue the progress we have all made in moving this great city forward.”

Mayor Brown continues to focus on improving city residents’ quality of life by maintaining and building upon city services and public safety.

The 2011-12 recommended budget furthers the progress that Mayor Brown’s Administration has made to make city streets safer. The budget provides funding for a new police class of 43 officers and a new firefighter class of 35 firefighters. With new classes in the upcoming fiscal year, a total of 127 new police officers and 119 firefighters will have graduated their respective academies since Mayor Brown took office in 2006, making Buffalo a safer place to live and work. Mayor Brown aims to implement a “red light camera initiative” to further enhance public safety.

“Upon approval and implementation of a red light camera system, I am prepared to dedicate, on a one-time basis, up to $300,000 in revenue from this source to help offset the loss of county funding to the smaller arts and cultural organizations,” said Mayor Brown.

City resources in the sum of $6,248,000 will also support Mayor Brown’s progress with his aggressive “5 in 5” demolition and rehabilitation program.  Of this amount, $3,186,000 is made available for the demolition of 212 blighted and vacant structures, and an additional $3,080,000 for the rehabilitation of approximately 254 properties.

The parks system, since successfully being transferred from the county to city in 2010, has steadily demonstrated this administration’s commitment to quality parks as an important contribution toward improving city neighborhoods and the quality of life for residents. $600,000 of city resources have been allocated to upgrade facilities and playgrounds. These investments follow this year’s $1.6 million commitment for the citywide Playground Equipment Upgrade Program, the largest investment specifically for playground equipment in 20 years.

Mayor Brown has been persistent in providing employment opportunities for city youth. Since taking office, 13,236 of the city’s neediest youth have been hired through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. The recommended budget includes a commitment from the city of $1 million in funding, slightly increased from last year, to assure 900 jobs.

“While the federal and state governments have reduced their commitment to youth employment, by increasing our funding, I am sending a message to Washington and Albany of the importance of this program and urging them to renew their commitment,” said Mayor Brown.

Mayor Brown plans to continue the creation of a green economy in Buffalo through the city’s success in obtaining federal stimulus funding. His administration’s investment in environmentally sustainable practices will improve city-owned community, recreation and senior facilities with the replacement of lighting, windows, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, energy management systems and installation of solar thermal technologies.

“Fostering such newly emerging green technologies enables the city to pursue additional grants and rebates that will grow our energy capabilities and impact our economy significantly. Our program goals for a green economy include the creation of a sustainable job market through the installation, manufacturing and maintenance of energy conservation improvements and alternative energy technologies.”

The 2011-12 recommended budget reflects a continuation of investment in quality services for city residents and the establishment of fiscally sound practices to position Buffalo for greater investment and job growth. Conservative budgeting has sustained the viability and competitiveness of the City of Buffalo. Creative reengineering of city government remains a successful approach to reducing costs and maintaining tax certainty for businesses and residents.

“We have established and maintained a strong financial foundation, while remaining focused on our core principles to improve quality of life, reduce crime and make city government more efficient and accountable,” said Mayor Brown. “We continue to make the necessary preparations for city strength and vibrancy through positioning for continued investment, economic development and job growth. As New York State’s second largest city, strengthening Buffalo will in turn strengthen the state as a whole.”

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