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.
taggedCity of Buffalo | city spending | Common Council | Darius Pridgen | Joseph Golombek