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Buffalo Common Council

Alana Barrington Dye, Schyler Norton, Edward Hawthorne — Feb 20, 2019

This fact sheet was drafted by PPG interns Alana Barrington Dye and Schyler Norton. It updates a 2009 version by Edward Hawthorne, a University at Buffalo School of Law student. It outlines the powers and responsibilities of the Buffalo Common Council and includes contact details and brief background information for the nine sitting council members. The fact sheet also lists the current committees and subcommittees of the Common Council, and where and when meetings are held. 

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Buffalo, Amherst, and Erie County: Worlds Apart

Jonathan Baird Aug 31, 2011

Examines demographic, population, and economic markers between Buffalo, Amherst, and Erie County.

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The Buffalo Urban Development Corporation

Heather Anderson — Jun 9, 2010

The non-profit corporation is run by a Board of Directors, which consists of the members of the Corporation.  The By-laws of the BUDC set forth how the members/directors are to be selected. Although the Officers may have salaries, at this time, none of the Officers are compensated for their services.  The By-laws provide that there are to be eighteen members/directors of the corporation, and that the members/directors are to be elected or appointed.

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Erie County Sales Tax

Victoria Volk — May 4, 2009

The Erie County sales tax rate is 8.75%.  It is a general sales and compensating use tax which is levied on all taxable retail sales in Erie County.  Of the total 8.75% tax collected by the State of New York, 4% is retained as State revenue and 4.75% is returned to the County.  The county tax base rate is 3%.  However, Erie County has received authorization to add an additional 1% in 1985, and then an additional 0.75% in 2005-2006.

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Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Board

Victoria Volk — May 3, 2009

The Board consists of 15 members.  The B&ECPL board is a volunteer position.  There are however, some requirements an applicant must meet.  Eight of the board members must be residents of the city of Buffalo.  The Board members serve in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 768 of the Laws of the 1953 State of New York, known as “An Act authorizing the consolidation of city and public libraries.” The board members are also governed by Article 16 …

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Buffalo City Comptroller

Robert Sparks — May 3, 2009

Under the Buffalo Charter and Code, the Comptroller is the head of the Department of Audit and Control.  The Department of Audit and Control is broken down into three divisions: Division of Audit, Division of Accounting, and Division of Investment and Debt Management.  The Division of Audit is headed by the City Auditor; the Division of Accounting is headed by the City Accountant, and the Division of Investment and Debt Management is headed by the Investment and Debt Management …

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Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority

Scott Mancuso — May 3, 2009

The BFSA is a “corporate governmental agency” and an “instrumentality” of the State of New York. It is run by nine directors.  Only one of these directors need be a citizen of the City of Buffalo.  The governor designates two of the nine directors as “chairperson” and “vice-chairperson,” who preside over all meetings of the directors.

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Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority

Marnie Smith — May 3, 2009

To assist our residents in attaining and maintaining a high standard for their quality of life.  The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority will provide services and opportunities associated with affordable, desirable, and secure housing to individuals and families.  We will provide customer service, programs and amenities which are the best possible.  The BMHA also has a number of goals: to provide safe, clean, affordable housing to residents of the City of Buffalo that will be …

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Buffalo Sewer Authority

Eric Vogan — May 3, 2009

The Buffalo Sewer Authority is a public benefit corporation created by the New York State legislature in 1935 to clean wastewater before it is released into the environment.  The BSA also maintains the storm drains for the City of Buffalo.  The BSA serves the residents and businesses of the Buffalo area as well as some neighboring communities.  Currently, around 98,000 Buffalo residents and nearly 400 businesses in the City of Buffalo are served by the BSA. 

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Buffalo Water Authority

Amanda Schieber — May 3, 2009

The Buffalo Municipal Water Finance Authority Act governs the Water Board.  In general, the Buffalo Water Authority is empowered to establish, fix, revise, change, collect, and enforce the payments of all fees, rates, rents, and other service charges for the use of the services furnished by the system.  The Buffalo Water Authority is in charge of setting rates and of capital improvements to the system as a whole over $10,000.  Some specific powers of the Water Board: terminate …

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City of Buffalo Common Council

Edward Hawthorne — May 3, 2009

The Mayor is responsible for all executive and administrative functions and controls the day-to-day affairs of the City.  Under the City Charter the Mayor may veto actions taken by the Council.  The Council may override the Mayor’s veto with a vote of six of the nine members.  Each Council Member is elected by receiving a majority of the vote from the district in which they are seeking to serve.  The leadership positions of the Common Council are selected by and from …

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Erie County Comptroller

Robert Coly — May 3, 2009

The Erie County Comptroller derives his or her authority from New York State County Law, Article 14. New York State has established a method for choosing a comptroller and a set of rules governing the comptroller’s duties.  Erie County has chosen to elect a comptroller and defines the office’s authority in Article 19 of the Erie County Charter.  Erie County’s comptroller will serve terms of four years, and should be elected from the county at large.

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Erie County Industrial Development Agency

Patrick Fitzsimmons — May 3, 2009

The ECIDA is a public benefit corporation created by the New York State Legislature for the purpose of attracting and retaining private sector business development in Erie County.  That development creates local job opportunities and improves the overall economic environment for the people of Erie County.

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Erie County Legislature

Alicia Giglio — May 3, 2009

New York State County Law allows each county to designate a board of supervisors to supervise the county.  However, if the county chooses, it may establish an elected county legislative body to take on the functions, powers, obligations and duties of the board of supervisors.  In Erie County this elected legislative body is the Erie County Legislature.  The Erie County Legislature serves all of the residents of Erie County.  In order to equally represent all residents, the …

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Erie County Sewer Division and Sewer Districts

Nathan Kerstein — May 3, 2009

Each district is a self-supporting entity with the power to assess fees and levy local charges.  New York state law gives nearly complete autonomy to the county to run their agencies.  The specific agencies are empowered to assemble data relating to the water resources available in the county, number and location of wells, contaminants that are present in the supply of the water in the county, sewage collection and related issues that may arise.  Erie County has made the decision …

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Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA)

Michelle Liberty — May 3, 2009

NFTA provides transportation services in the Buffalo-Niagara region.  It oversees the Metro Bus and Rail System, the NFTA Boat Harbor, the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, and the Niagara Falls International Airport.  NFTA is governed by a state law, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Act which created the Authority to further and improve transportation services within the Niagara Frontier. 

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Office of the Erie County Executive

Janette Clarke — May 3, 2009

The County Executive also has the power to appoint citizens to serve on any one of thirty-six Volunteer Boards.  These Boards often compile information in their respective areas and advise the County Legislature and County Executive.  The Volunteer Boards include the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, the Council on the Disabled, the Fisheries Advisory, the Health Board, the Local Early Intervention Council, and the Youth Services Board, to name just a few.  There are …

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The Mayor of Buffalo

Carrie Weremblewski — May 3, 2009

If the Mayor is temporarily unable to perform the duties of his office, the mayor’s designated officer whose appointment has been confirmed by the Common Council shall act as Mayor until the Mayor is able to.  The designation must be in writing and filed with the city clerk.  If the Mayor has not made such a designation, the president of the Common Council shall perform the Mayor’s duties until the Mayor is able to.  If the office of Mayor is vacant (as a result of …

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County Planning Boards

Nathan Kerstein — May 2, 2009

The main focus of the board should be to implement the Framework for Regional Growth and to combat sprawl in the region.  From 1980 to 2000 the developed area grew thirty-eight percent, even though population fell nearly six percent.  It has been estimated by the county that better planned development could save $800 million.

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Erie County Property Taxes

Greg Michalek — May 2, 2009

It is a tax on the assessed value of real property.  Typically set by school boards, town boards, village boards, and city and county governments.  Applies to both homeowners and businesses, although rates and exemptions may differ.  Each board determines the total amount of taxes it needs to raise, and then divides that number by the total taxable assessed value of the jurisdiction to determine the tax rate.  Your share of the tax is calculated by multiplying the tax rate …

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Municipal Unions

Edward Hawthorne — May 2, 2009

Erie County cannot hire part-time workers in place of full-time workers.  An arbitrator from the state's Public Employees Relations Board ruled in favor of the Civilian Service Employees Association Local 815. The union filed an improper practice charge last year after County Executive Chris Collins hired about 150 regular part time workers.  The arbitrator ruled that the county violated the state's Taylor Law when it failed to negotiate with the union before hiring part time workers …

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New York State Campaign Finance Laws

Patrick Fitzsimmons — May 2, 2009

Campaign finance laws govern how political candidates raise and spend monies for their elections.  In general, there are three ways in which states regulate campaign finance: (1) disclosure, (2) contribution limits, and (3) public financing.  Disclosure requires a candidate to disclose campaign-related contribution receipts as well as expenditures.  Expenditures can include anything from advertising material to travel expenses.  Contribution Limits restrict the amount of …

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Sustainability Offices for Local Governments

Robert Coly — May 2, 2009

The most widely recognized definition of sustainability is found in the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development.  It says that sustainability means “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency also provides a definition of sustainability.  The EPA says that sustainability is “a new way of thinking about an …

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The Erie County Holding Center and Correctional Facility

Rachel Jones — May 2, 2009

The Erie County Holding Center is a maximum security detention center.  The Center is used to house inmates before their trials.  The Erie County Holding Center is located at 40 Delaware, Buffalo New York, 14202.  The Erie County Correctional Facility is a medium security facility, which can house 1,070 inmates.  It holds inmates who have committed a variety of different crimes.  The Correction Facility also houses parole violators for the State of New York.  These …

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Erie County's Budget

Eric Vogan — Apr 30, 2009

Citizens have two opportunities to influence the budget publically.  The first is when the County Executive and the Director of Budget and Management hold their public meetings, and the second is when the County Legislature holds its public meeting.  Citizens can also write to the County Executive and County Legislature to influence the budget.  If during the year a department needs more money for a program, the Executive can appropriate funds from one part of a department to …

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The City of Buffalo Budget Fiscal Year 2008-2009

Harvey Asiedu-Akrofi — Apr 29, 2009

The City asserts that it has the ability to: afford three successive property tax cuts”, thereby reducing the overall property tax rate on residential properties by nearly 12%; maintain an unprecedented unreserved fund balance of $105 million with $76 million undesignated; set aside $30 million in City surplus funds and up to $15 million in a separate capital reserve to ensure the City never again faces a fiscal crisis; move the City from a fiscal control period to an advisory one; …

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City of Buffalo Property Tax

Victoria Schmidt — Apr 26, 2009

The property tax is essentially a tax placed on property owners by the municipality.  Cities outside of New York City may use only revenue sources authorized by New York State, and the property tax is one of those few sources.  The property tax is based on the value of the property.  The tax is calculated by multiplying a property’s taxable assessment by the tax rate that applies to the tax jurisdiction where the property is located.

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Buffalo Board of Parking

Elena Steigman — Apr 7, 2009

The mission of the Board of Parking (“BP”) is to relieve traffic congestion and to promote the clearance and reconstruction of substandard or unsanitary areas in Buffalo by coordinating City-owned and privately owned parking facilities and spaces strategically, environmentally and with minimal interference with Buffalo’s streetscapes, skyline and views.  The Mayor appoints eleven members to the Board of Parking for staggered five-year terms.  The Mayor designates the …

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Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority

Robert Goodwin — Dec 8, 2008

The Authority is an international entity, created out of an agreement between the State of New York, with the consent of the United States Congress, and the Canadian Government.  The Authority’s mission is to be known as the premier Canada/US international border crossing.  The Authority strives to provide excellent customer service and be an effective channel for trade and tourism between the two nations.  The Authority governs the Peace Bridge.  The …

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The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation

Michael Mettille — Dec 8, 2008

The ECHDC is currently developing the Inner and Outer Buffalo Harbor, most notably where the historic terminus of the Erie Canal is.  The ECHDC is also developing some of the surrounding area including the old Memorial Auditorium and the Donovan State Building.

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Alternative Tax Strategies for Local Governments

Robert Coly — Nov 18, 2008

During the fiscal year 2004-05, New Yorker’s paid approximately $111 billion in state and local taxes.  Of this total, local taxes accounted for 55% or $61 billion.  Local tax revenues come mainly from the property tax and sales tax, which account for $34 billion and $10 billion, respectively.  Taxes are important to development for two reasons.  First, the tax burden on low and middle class families affects local citizen’s standard of life, access to affordable …

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Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau

Irene Pijuan — Nov 16, 2008

The CVB is currently drafting a five-year strategic plan that will guide its sales and marketing efforts on behalf of the local tourism industry.  The plan, when complete, will serve to refine the CVB’s mission as a destination marketing organization and the official tourism promotion agency for Erie County.  Focus groups have been conducted with a variety of partner organizations representing the hotel, restaurant, retail, attraction, sports, cultural and philanthropic …

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The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency

Karen Andolina-Scott — Nov 16, 2008

BURA was created under New York State’s General Municipal Law Article 15-B §639.  This statute directly states who should compose the board of BURA.  It states that BURA shall be composed of the mayor of the city of Buffalo and eight other members including Buffalo’s president of the common council, chairman of the urban renewal committee of the common council, minority leader of the common council, corporation counsel, commissioner of urban renewal, commissioner of …

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Richardson Center Corporation

Gary Phillips — Nov 7, 2008

The mission of the RCC is to rehabilitate the Richardson Olmsted Complex, which is located in the City of Buffalo. Generally, the RCC ―envision[s] the rehabilitation of the National Historic Landmark H. H. Richardson Complex (the former Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane), comprised of the H. H. Richardson-designed buildings and Frederick Law Olmsted-designed grounds, to be the crowning jewel of a mixed-use, multi-purpose civic campus of public and private activities.‖ Additionally, the …

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NYSERDA: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

Jenna Piasecki — Oct 3, 2008

There are four regional offices located in Albany, New York City, Buffalo, and West Valley.  The major staff is broken into three subgroups.  Energy Analysis has 21 staff members, most with the title of project manager.  Energy Efficiency Services has 34 staff members at the main office, 5 in New York City, and 1 in Buffalo.  The Residential Efficiency and Affordability Program staffs 29 employees at the main office, 4 in New York City, and 2 in Buffalo.  The Research …

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Erie County Office of Economic Development

Louise Calixte — Oct 2, 2008

The OED has constant challenges in getting enough financial resources.  Since there is no specific budget allocation, the OED must compete with other priorities of the Department of Planning and Economic Development.  Another challenge that the OED faces is complicated ownership issues, specifically with brownfields.  In order to remediate the sites, legal ownership issues have to be resolved.  At times, this process is arduous and time consuming.

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