|Date:||February 13, 2023|
By Rose Thomas |
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
For this summary, we will focus on two meetings. The 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 Regular Meeting is the Common Council's primary meeting, where they make official decisions on issues.
During the Caucus Meeting, Delano Dowell, Commissioner of the Department of Administration, Finance, Policy, and Urban Affairs, raised a concern for the budget modification for snow removal. He stated roughly seven contractors have been waiting for a month for compensation for service dates from December 24 to January 3. The department works directly with the state, and from there, the state will coordinate with FEMA to acquire funding and other funding sources. The City of Buffalo ("the City") estimates it would be about $12 million for the December storm versus $3 million for the November storm.
The Buffalo Fire Department ("BFD") requested to enter into a contract with the Contingency Management Consulting Group to ensure BFD and other emergency responders' preparedness for future emergency responses. This would include developing implementation strategies and hazard ad-hoc training for the newly updated comprehensive emergency management plan.
Lastly, council members discussed the HOME-ARP allocation plan and clarified HUD is the funding source. This initiative will aid residents—including the homeless, human trafficking survivors, domestic violence survivors, and veterans—with an estimated $12 million in allocated funds. Earlier in 2022, there were community stakeholder meetings conducted to review what different organizations had to offer. Although the City has resources, acquiring more space and beds for emergencies is necessary. There are challenges with certain populations accessing safe housing due to transportation, lack of food access, and background checks.
During the Regular Meeting, Common Council discussed the sale of 1127 Main Street, a request the Ellicott Development Property proposed to the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency for $435,000. Ellicott Development also plans to acquire an adjacent building from the Veterans Association to demolish and build a mixed-use property in its place. However, it will hold off on this until further reassessment. Council members had concerns as neighborhoods like the Fruit Belt dealt with developers' promises similar to this in the past. Council President Pridgen requested the Ellicott Development Property go to the Corporation Counsel beforehand and discuss this further before approval.
Common Council officially approved the emergency manager position for the City of Buffalo. This decision came after multiple discussions in previous meetings regarding job requirements.
The Buffalo Arts Commission submitted funding recommendations for 2023-2024. The request includes $585,000 to cover operating costs, a public art curator position, grant matching, and creating new public art. Council sent the item to the Finance Committee for further discussion.
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