Buffalo Common Council Summary: Week of May 31, 2021

Buffalo Common Council Summary: Week of May 31, 2021

Date: June 3, 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 four meetings. For this summary, we will focus on two meetings: the Legislation Committee and the Finance Committee. The Legislation Meeting addresses local laws, ordinances, and general legislation, except for civil service matters. The Finance Committee focuses on the budget and issuance of bonds. 

During the short Finance Meeting, the Common Council received a briefing from Buffalo's Director of Administration & Finance, the City Accountant, and the Comptroller's Office – clearing up federal guidelines for American Rescue Plan funding. The Council stated concerns that the federal government only allows municipalities to use funds to cover COVID-related revenue losses. The other offices clarified that the federal government enables cities to use American Rescue Plan funding to cover any revenue losses not specific to COVID-19.

Common Council President Pridgen noted his lack of support for the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority ("BFSA"), noting the Council has tried to be collaborative, but the BFSA failed to respond.

During the Legislation Meeting, Common Council clarified to residents that it attempted to limit the number of alcohol-serving establishments in Allentown. However, the New York State Supreme Court reversed the body's decision, stating denials based on that reasoning are "arbitrary and capricious."

The Common Council heard testimony in a public hearing from several Buffalo Residents resisting a special use permit to the Erie County Harbor Development Corporation on waterfront property. The special use permit expands the current use from vacant open space to allow for a large parking lot structure and an outdoor arena stage for live entertainment. The residents spoke mainly about keeping the space on the Outer Harbor a green and a passive space. The Council largely agreed with the public that the Outer Harbor space should remain green space and passive space, but they tabled the issue for further discussion.

The Council stated its intention to designate the Spolka Building as a local landmark. Designation as a local landmark ensures buildings gain protections against demolition and significant modifications.

Common Council read a letter from Barbara Miller-Williams, the City Comptroller, stating that she had serious concerns with the Council approving a fund balance policy without her office receiving more input. The Common Council said it believes it did its due diligence and adapted the fund balance policy to meet the concerns of multiple city entities. The Council also noted the entire process of approving the fund balance was collaborative, and the body met numerous times with the Comptroller's Office to draft the original policy. The Council intends to approve the policy next Tuesday.

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