Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown today released his proposed budget for the 2014-2015 Fiscal Year.
Brown's proposed budget is $504.5 million, a 1.9% increase over the current budget.
"The budget goes beyond my pledge not to raise taxes or assessments, in fact it cuts the residential tax rate, cuts the commercial tax rate, and again freezes property assessments in the City of Buffalo, producing the lowest residential and commercial tax rates in Buffalo in 20 years," Brown said to WBEN.
The budget lowers the commercial tax rate by 1.7%, and reduces the residential tax rate by .05%.
The Buffalo Council must return the Budget to the Mayor by May 22, 2014. The Mayor may then veto only additions made by the Council. By Charter, the Budget becomes official by June 8th.
Some budget highlights from the Mayor's Office:
· This plan will provide another commitment of $1 million for the purchase of new police vehicles, adding to the 49 already purchased vehicles, as Buffalo continues to replace the entire aging fleet.
· The plan also adds a new police and fire class, upgrades the fire dispatch system and continues funding the resources needed to address and eliminate areas of high crime, illegal guns, gang activity and drug trafficking.
· This plan creates a pro-active Strong Neighborhoods Task Force that will address problem properties by cracking down on the top problem property owners in Buffalo.
· It also introduces a new mobile application that will provide city residents with improved access to reporting neighborhood concerns.
· Funding has also been included for a Cement Finisher Apprentice program to provide training to Buffalo residents for this trade and further improve the safety, beauty and economic vitality of Buffalo’s neighborhoods.
· The city will also invest $8.5 million from a variety of funding sources to conduct approximately 560 demolitions, adding to the already over 5,000 demolitions completed since 2006.
· Funding has also been added to create an Office of New Americans as immigration continues to rise in Buffalo. This will assist these new residents transition into the community and be a strategic focus in growing Buffalo’s population.
YOUTH & EDUCATION INVESTMENTS
· In addition to the $70.3 million provided to Buffalo Schools, which is more than 52% of the property tax levy, this budget includes $200,000 for Say Yes Buffalo, which is part of a new $800,000 four year commitment, bringing the city’s total Say Yes investment to $1.3 million.
· In addition, this spending plan continues $400,000 in support for the instrumental music program in the Buffalo Public Schools, along with continued funding in the amount of $171,000 for the hiring of additional Attendance Teachers.
· This spending plan also increased the city’s commitment to the summer youth employment program by $100,000. This brings total investment to $1.2 million, the highest amount in the general city budget in history. This will provide approximately 1,400 jobs to young people.
FUNDING FOR COMMUNITY SERVICES AND CULTURAL SUPPORT
· This budget also includes a substantial investment in community services, providing funding for the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission, the Police Athletic League, Americorps and a Marketing Campaign designed to attract new residents and businesses to Buffalo.
· Buffalo remains committed to providing world-class cultural attractions. This budget includes $250,000 in competitive grants for arts and other community groups. It also proposes a $60,000 funding match for the curator of public art position at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
· Support will also be provided to retain a consultant to attract more film and television projects to Buffalo, as well as investment and training for more city residents to work in this industry.
· Funding has also been allocated to The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, with continued support for Peacemakers, The Buffalo History Museum, Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo Place and Kleinhans Music Hall.
BUILDING ON BUFFALO’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOB GROWTH
· In simple terms, for a residential taxpayer, the annual tax rate will be cut .05% this year, a 15.7% reduction since 2006. By cutting the tax rate again, city residents with a home assessed at $100,000 will save $309.
· For commercial property owners, the tax rate will be reduced by 1.7%, a 29.6% cut since 2006. In simple terms, a $100,000 commercial structure will save the property owner $987.