Brown’s capital budget would repair streets, demolish houses - The Buffalo News

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Brown’s capital budget would repair streets, demolish houses

Mayor Byron W. Brown’s recommended 2014 capital budget pays for new police cars, upgrades to parks and libraries, improvements to Coca-Cola Field and new street lights.

Brown’s outline of $22.9 million in major spending priorities for the new year also includes $6 million for street repairs and $3.3 million for demolitions of neglected houses, the two largest expenditures on the list.

The capital spending plan covers the city’s big-ticket items, and the requests from departments typically far outweigh the money that is available to spend.

The city’s Citizens Planning Council reviewed more than $117 million in requests and made recommendations to Brown, whose recommended budget has been filed with the Common Council.

“I’m confident, if the Common Council accepts these recommendations, that these capital investments will enhance and strengthen our city neighborhoods and residents for years to come,” he said.

The Council has until Dec. 15 to adopt the plan. In the meantime, lawmakers will hold work sessions to discuss each item, and could add or subtract from it.

“It’s always $60 million in needs and $20 million in capital budget,” said Council President Richard A. Fontana.

The city will borrow money next year to fund each project, and Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder has recommended that the city borrow only $19.5 million.

The comptroller’s office will only borrow for projects that appear ready to go, because in prior years the city has added to its debt load by borrowing for projects that took years to bid out, said Schroeder’s executive assistant, Patrick Curry.

“We’re still concerned about spending funds quickly, in a timely manner,” Curry said. “There has been some improvement, so we’re happy to see that.”

Major items include:

• $1.6 million for city building improvements, including $400,000 each for renovations to the Fire Department and Police Department buildings.

• $1.3 million for park improvements, including Broderick and LaSalle parks.

• $1.3 million for rehabilitation to the lift bridge at the foot of West Ferry Street.

• $1.1 million for new police cars.

• $802,500 for improvements to Court Street, a recommendation from the Buffalo Building Re-Use Program.

• $650,000 for the Arctic Edge polar bear exhibit at the Buffalo Zoo.

• $535,000 for Kenmore Avenue, a joint project with Erie County.

• $508,000 for Niagara Street.

• $500,000 for improvements to Coca-Cola Field.

• $500,000 for road construction in Colvin Estates, a new housing development in North Buffalo.

• $500,000 for exterior renovations to the casino at Martin Luther King Park.

• $482,750 for the Lovejoy and Cazenovia pools.

• $428,000 for North Buffalo Rails to Trails.

• $400,000 for street lighting.

• $350,000 for libraries.

• $300,000 for tree removal and planting.

• $229,000 for monument restoration.

The capital budget is a separate document from the city’s operating budget, which takes effect July 1 and is funded with state aid, tax and grant revenue.


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