|Date:||May 17, 2023|
Partnership for the Public Good and its partner organizations gathered at Buffalo City Hall to call for three priorities to be included in the City of Buffalo 2023-2024 budget currently being negotiated. Video of the press conference is available here.
These community-based organizations called on Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and the Buffalo Common Council to include the following priorities in the budget:
1) $500,000 to fund a sidewalk and bus stop snow removal pilot program, targeting the 60 miles of sidewalks with the highest public transit use. Similar programs have been instituted in comparable cities across upstate, such as Syracuse's sidewalk snow removal program, which allocated $650,000 to service 100 miles of sidewalks.
2) Re-establish a funding process to distribute the $400,000 in arts and cultural funding included in the Mayor’s proposed budget. This funding should be granted through a public application process housed in the Arts Commission, with priority given to small and mid-sized arts organizations.
3) $115,000 to strengthen the Office of New Americans by hiring an additional staff person from the refugee and New American community, adding more language access across City departments, and offering more programming.
Each year, PPG’s 365 partner organizations are engaged in a democratic process to select their shared top ten priorities for policy change in Buffalo Niagara. These three issues were voted on to PPG’s 2023 Community Agenda and require funding in the City budget to be achieved.
At today’s press conference, leading community advocates on each issue – sidewalk and bus stop snow removal, arts and cultural funding, and New American inclusion and services – shared why these items should be included in the City budget and how these changes would benefit residents across Buffalo.
“We have talked with the City Council and heard what they are saying that it is up to the property owner [to clear snow] and we should be targeting the bad actors. Yes, let’s target the bad actors but let’s focus on public safety first and foremost… We have to provide public service and ensure people are not getting hurt and can fulfill public health needs such as walking, one of the most basic ways to improve your health,” said Simon Husted, Member, Buffalo Transit Riders United on a snow removal pilot program.
“...the arts have faced significant challenges in recent years due to lack of funding. Many artists and arts organizations are struggling to keep their doors open, and this lack of support profoundly impacts the communities they serve, particularly young people. The Mayor’s proposed budget for 2023-2024 includes $400,000 in grant in aid funding for anti-violence and cultural organizations. We are grateful that the Mayor included this… Now we need to make sure this funding is approved in the final budget, and then is distributed to arts organizations in the year ahead. In recent years, this funding has been allocated in the budget but not distributed as grants. This funding is vital to the health and prosperity of our city, and we must ensure it gets out to arts organizations working in our communities,” said Richie Wills, Teaching Artist, Just Buffalo Literary Center on arts and cultural funding.
“New Americans have gone through a lot… Refugee resettlement agencies are a short term program. After… the community faces a lot of challenges, especially when it comes to interpretation, language access, programming and citizenship. The Office of New Americans will not be effective without an immigrant or refugee in their office. We are asking for the Mayor to add one more employee to the office to reach out to the community and translate their needs,” said Dao Kamara, Community Engagement Coordinator, Providence Farm Collective on funding for the Office of New Americans.
“As we approach the May 16th Public Hearing date for the Mayor’s proposed City Budget, it is imperative that community voice is heard and included in the negotiations for funding in these three areas. The arts, public safety and New Americans must be considered when establishing city funding efforts,” said Dejia James, Policy Advancement and Media Manager at PPG.
PPG urged residents to attend the Common Council’s City Budget Public Hearing on Tuesday, May 16 at 5pm, to add their support for these priorities. Residents can register to speak at the hearing in advance by filling out this form.