Buffalo Common Council Summary: Week of September 18, 2023

Date: September 22, 2023

by Caitlin Love Crowell
Each week, PPG summarizes important takeaways from the major Buffalo Common Council meetings. We also include information from council meetings related to our Community Agenda items. If you want to learn more about how the council meetings work and how you can get involved, check out our guide. 

For this summary, we will focus on two meetings, the Caucus Meeting and the Regular Meeting.  ‘Council Member’ is abbreviated as CM; ‘Council President’ as CP; and ‘Majority Leader’ as ML.

In the Caucus Meeting, Nolan Skipper, from the Department of Public Works, spoke about the status of several projects. He noted that striping the speed zones was not completed, partly because there is only one available contractor in the entire region. He also said that the DPW was expecting higher-than-usual concrete and labor costs because of the construction on the Bills stadium. [This connection was not explained, but perhaps it’s due to a smaller labor pool of contractors that are available.] Some DPW projects will be put off until 2025.

Lisa Hicks, Director of Development, said that the city had put together program guidelines for ARP funds; the city is hoping to launch the application process mid-October. Eligible businesses must be located in Buffalo, operating since 2021, with fewer than 50 employees and annual revenue between $10,000 and $1.5 million. They must be current on their property taxes and agree to enroll in a technical assistance program.

In the Regular Meeting, the council sent an item to the Claims Committee involving a lawsuit against the BPD. The Drayton family sued the city after the BPD did a SWAT team no-knock, weapons-drawn raid on a home. The city's attorneys are now recommending that the city settle with the Drayton family for $255,000. 

The council approved a payment of $50,000 to Say Yes to Education for a summer camp program in 2024.

The council received and filed notice of a public hearing about the New York State Department of Transportation plan to cap Route 33. This hearing is Wednesday, September 27th. 

The council moved to recommit, or send back to committee for further consideration, several items: the Division of Parking Enforcement’s contract extension with a tech provider; the Police Department’s contract extension with a lie detector services company; and a complaint about the way the Buffalo Board of Education is drawing its districts for elections.

The council, with the exception of CM Wyatt, voted to approve the contract with BusPatrol for traffic cameras on school bus arms.

The council adopted CM Nowakowski’s resolution asking the comptroller’s office to do an audit of all employees on paid administrative leave. The city’s attorney told the council that the council couldn’t compel the comptroller to do an audit.

Council referred their call for a comprehensive winter preparedness plan to the Civil Service Committee. CM Wyatt encouraged members of the public to make their concerns heard at that meeting.  The council sent to the Legislation Committee a resolution to change the city charter requiring that the annual snow plow plan be filed with them by April.