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BMHA may owe City of Buffalo $3.1 million

The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority could owe the City of Buffalo as much as $3.1 million, dating back to 2005.

Or, it might owe a lot less, because the city’s recordkeeping is incomplete.

On Tuesday, the BMHA’s request for an additional $250,000 was sent back to the Council’s Finance Committee. Representatives from the city, BMHA and the comptroller’s office plan to meet soon to determine how much is owed.

Comptroller Mark Schroeder wrote the Council on Thursday that the BMHA owed more than $3 million.

“The city should ensure that all outstanding invoices are paid before providing any additional funding to the BMHA,” wrote Schroeder, who said the BMHA owed $1.9 million for bulk natural gas to heat buildings between 2005 and 2008. The Housing Authority also owed $1.1 million for police services in 2013 and 2015, and an additional $159,502 in indirect costs provided by various city departments from 2009 to 2015.

“The BMHA is reviewing all its records pertaining to the comptroller’s memo to determine if there is any validity to these claims of outstanding invoices,” the authority said in a statement. “The BMHA will work with the city to resolve this situation.”

Council President Darius G. Pridgen said it appears both parties could be at fault.

“The responsibility is with the person who signed the bill, and the person who is supposed to collect the bill. We were made aware of it, and have the fiduciary responsibility to research it and try to collect those revenues,” Pridgen said.

“We need to also hear from BMHA.”

University Council Member Rasheed Wyatt suggested the BMHA has had to make do with less money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in recent year, and didn’t want to see residents in public housing suffer because of it.

“It’s not just a BMHA issue, it’s a federal issue,” Wyatt said.

Pridgen said he wants to hear from BMHA first on how it would use the money it requested. He said the larger issue is for the city to develop a better system for determining how much it is owed and who to hold accountable.