Like many other citizens of Buffalo, I was outraged when I learned that our city officials were raising our taxes and imposing new fees. In protest, I wrote my letters and placed my calls. Why can't we come up with more innovative solutions to the city's fiscal crisis? I asked. Organizations in the private sector are restructuring and "re-engineering" in order to survive in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Why can't city government do the same?
What I learned is that our officials are bound by numerous constraints that greatly restrict their choice of options, labor contracts being among the most obvious. "We can't do X because of Y clause in the Z labor contract" was the response I received to almost every suggestion I made for change. After a half-hour phone call, I hung up frustrated. I didn't like the answers, but at least I understood the basis of the proposed actions.
We shouldn't leave the job of reviving Buffalo solely in the hands of our officials; they can't do it alone. This monumental task requires the cooperation of all of us: government officials, union workers, business leaders, private citizens. We must change our focus from "We can't" to "We can, and this is how." While we will all make sacrifices in the short term, we will all share in the long-term reward: a financially viable city.
Mayor Masiello has assembled one of the most competent staffs this city has seen in years. The administration's budget and user fee were designed to be as fair and equitable as possible, given the options. If we don't like them, let's not merely complain. Let's help devise a better solution.
LAURA Wilson Buffalo