All the numbers fit to print
Speaking of transparency, city comptroller Mark Schroeder is offering a portal into city finances. He's going to be announcing today something called "Open Book Buffalo." I got a sneak peak yesterday. It's got information on the city payroll, payments to city vendors, city revenue and expenses, and even plenty of graphics. Very cool. I'll provide updates as I learn more today.
And even more
Speaking of numbers, I stopped in the city control board meeting yesterday. The group was going through first-quarter finance reports for all the city entities the board checks in on - the city, the school board, the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, and Municipal Housing Authority. I learned city sales tax revenue is coming in lower than budgeted but revenue from licenses and permits is above budget. Also, some good financial news for the financially strapped Housing Authority, where federal funding as well as tenant rents are coming in a bit higher than expected. Administration costs, however, are above budget. City school spending, meanwhile, is about $4 million over budget during the first quarter, but that could possibly be offset over the course of the year, the control board said. And BURA, according to the control board, is undergoing some staffing changes that should help address some management issues at that agency.
City lawmakers on school issues
Council members seem to be chiming in more and more on school issues lately. We heard from South District Councilman Chris Scanlon, who wants more school bus aides since a 9-year-old was assaulted on a school bus. Next we hear from North District Councilman Joe Golombek, repeating that he wants neighborhood schools. With neighborhood schools, Golombek noted, students wouldn't be getting up early to get on buses that don't have bus aides. In the past, Golombek said, the term "neighborhood schools" was sometimes viewed as a subtly racist way to promote racially segregated schools in a racially segregated city. But Buffalo neighborhoods are much more integrated than they were years ago, he said. (Golombek represents the Black Rock-Riverside area.) "I don't think that's an issue anymore," Golombek said. "I would much rather see neighborhood schools."
As expected, the Common Council earlier this week nixed a 25-foot high billboard proposed for 399 Ohio Street. "Ohio Street is a parkway," Fillmore District Councilman Dave Franczyk told his colleagues. "The Valley Community Center is voting tomorrow in opposition. I called the city Strategic Planning Office. They said its prohibited under the proposed Green Code. As a parkway, we should not be putting billboards and poll signs up." Based on Franczyk's opposition, the council voted against the sign.