|Date:||January 7, 2021|
By Orlando Dickson
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 two sessions: A Caucus Meeting, and a Regular Meeting. 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. A Regular Meeting is the Common Council's primary meeting, where the body makes official decisions on issues.
During the Caucus Meeting, councilmembers made three significant proposals. Councilmember Wingo proposed a change for Real Property Tax Laws 467 and 459. These laws cover tax exemptions for seniors and people with both a disability and a low-income. The change allows any tax exemptions from 2020 to carry over to 2021 without reapplication. (Applications would be limited to new applicants or adjusted benefits.) When resident exemptions require a positive adjustment, the assessment and taxation office will send a reapplication letter to the resident. The Office of Assessment will also keep their 2020 benefits intact until the reapplication is submitted. When resident exemptions require a negative adjustment, the Assessment & Taxation Commissioner will adjust the exemption based on tax and assessment records. Residents may still apply if they think there is an error.
Councilmember Golombek also proposed a sidewalk snow removal program to be discussed in the Community Development Meeting. This proposal would use ticketing revenue from "failure to shovel sidewalk" and school zone speeding tickets to fund a program where the City of Buffalo sponsors sidewalk snow-clearing.
Council President Pridgen proposed making the Mayor Brown’s stop receipt executive order into an ordinance. This ordinance requires any officer conducting a traffic stop to hand out professional identifying information, and information about why the officer made the stop. The ordinance also calls to make the data on those stop receipts open to the public without requiring a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.
During the unusually short Regular Meeting, Common Council adopted resolves for the property tax and stop receipt ordinance amendment request while sending the remainder to the Legislation Committee. The Council also adopted the sidewalk snow removal program proposal while sending the remainder to the Community Development Committee. Essentially, Common Council approved the resolutions but omitted the items that still require further discussion.
There was also an adoption of a rule which reactivates the position of Sergeant-at-Arms. A Sergeant-at-Arms enforces the rules of the Common Council on other members.
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