Buffalo Common Council Summary: Week of December 13, 2021

Buffalo Common Council Summary: Week of December 13, 2021

Date: December 17, 2021

By Becca Bass|

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.

This week, the Common Council held three meetings: a special session of the Committee of the Whole, a Caucus Meeting, and the Regular Meeting. The Committee of the Whole is convened on special occasions when a particular issue warrants more informal review and discussion with all the members of the Council present. A Caucus Meeting is where members from a specific political party, in Buffalo's case, the democratic party, meet, but official voting on issues does not occur. The Caucus Meeting is held the day before each Regular Meeting to review the agenda. The Regular Meeting is the Common Council's primary meeting, where they make official decisions on issues.

During the Committee of the Whole, the Common Council met to review proposed amendments to the 2022 Capital Improvement Budget and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) spending plan designed to help fund road maintenance and repairs across the city. Specifically, the Council discussed increasing the proposed Capital Improvement Budget by $50,000 per district and reallocating $3.6 million of the ARP funds—$400,000 per Council district—toward road maintenance and repairs. This will reallocate $3.6 million from the proposed wraparound services for job training program participants. It was clarified that Capital Improvement funds can only be used towards roadway projects, but that ARP funds could be used for other infrastructure improvements (ex., park design). 

During the Caucus Meeting, Deputy Comptroller Delano Dowell shared that the Comptroller's Office completed a report on city employee overtime for the Council's review, noting that overtime costs continue to rise significantly. This report was sent to the Finance Committee for discussion the week of December 20. Brendan Mehaffy, Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Planning for the City of Buffalo, presented a proposed amendment to the Annual Action Plan that involved reallocation of underspent funds for two public infrastructure projects (Allison and Kensington pools), one demolition (308 Crowley in Riverside), and the Buffalo Urban League. Councilmember Wyatt requested this amendment be submitted to the Finance Committee for further review before a vote at the Regular Meeting.

During the Regular Meeting, the Common Council voted to approve the amendment to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) spending plan to reallocate $3.6 million from the proposed wraparound supports for job training program participants toward road maintenance and repair instead. Four hundred thousand dollars per district will be available immediately, and individual councilmembers will work with the Department of Public Works to pursue projects within their communities. The Council also voted to amend the 2022 Capital Improvement Budget by adding $50,000 per district for road maintenance and repair. Common Council acknowledged that road conditions are a central complaint for residents, and that while this investment is inadequate to meet the level of need, it is a meaningful step towards responding to constituent needs. Each district will have a combined $800,000 for road repairs between the Capital Improvement Budget and the ARP funds. 

Council President Pridgen announced that the City would appoint a councilmember to serve on the City's ARP spending plan working group so that the Council can remain abreast of planning.

The Common Council voted to extend the lease for Kleinhans Music Hall through June 20, 2031. The Council also voted to approve the appointment of a community advocate to the Comptroller's Office. Finally, the body approved free parking in the Mohawk and Fernbach parking garages downtown on New Year's Eve.

Need more than just a summary? Contact us at info@ppgbuffalo.org, or find full meeting information and schedules here: http://buffalony.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx.