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Today in City Hall: Budget and Broderick Park

By Jill Terreri

The Common Council kicked off its budget workshops this morning in relatively brief meetings with some of the city's largest departments. 

The questions tended to deal with matters of concern to the Council, not necessarily what was in the budget. 

The Taxation and Assessment Department discussed the inquiries they were getting about the state's STAR program, which offers property tax breaks to homeowners. Basic STAR recipients must re-apply this year - senior STAR recipients re-apply every year. The city department doesn't administer the program, but it does send out the tax bills. Department officials said they worried that the state won't be able to tell them all of the properties that should be getting the exemption until June, and property tax bills must be mailed by July 1. 

Council members also asked the Division of Real Estate how their request for an auction of vacant, undevelopable lots is going. The Council had requested that a separate auction be held for these properties, so neighbors could easily buy them for less than the city typically charges. 

Strategic Planning Executive Director Brendan Mehaffy said the cost to advertise for the lots, a requirement in state law, could be $15,000, and the return might not be that much. The department continues to work on the request. 

In another workshop, City Clerk Gerry Chwalinski discussed a new dog survey, where city workers will be on the street this summer, looking for unlicensed dogs.  

The Public Works Department worshop begins at 1 p.m. today. 

Outside of City Hall, Phase I of long-planned improvements to Broderick Park at the foot of West Ferry Street, on the West Side, will begin in a groundbreaking ceremony at 2 p.m. today. Mayor Byron Brown will be joined by Niagara Council Member David Rivera and representatives of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, Buffalo Quarters Historical Society, Buffalo United Front, and others. 

The improvements will cost $1.5 million and will include an amphitheater, a garden and a waterfront promenade to commemorate the park's place on the Underground Railroad. 

Filed with the clerk's office today was a measure from Ellicott Council Member Darius Pridgen to see if people who have delinquent accounts with the city can be publicly notified. The city is owed $26 million from people who haven't paid their bills. Pridgen wants a public notice with the names of everyone whose debts are more than a year old. 

The Common Council will consider this at a future meeting. 

Also filed was a measure from North Council Member Joe Golombek calling on the Buffalo Municipal Housing Agency to institute a recycling program at its properties. 

IBM is meeting with city departments today, including the Common Council, in order to learn how to address the problem of youth unemployment

And from today's Buffalo News, complete results of yesterday's Board of Education election, including the addition of developer Carl Paladino to the board representing the Park District. Board President Mary Ruth Kapsiak and Members Jay McCarthy and Sharon Belton-Cottman were re-elected.  

Newcomers Theresa Harris-Tigg and James Sampson also won. 



City of Buffalo | city spending | Common Council | Darius Pridgen | Joseph Golombek
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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |