Mayor Griffin today indicated that he may veto a city tax hike the Common Council approved last week to increase support for schools.
Since the Council vote to add to the school aid was 8-5 -- one vote shy of the nine votes that would be needed to override a mayoral veto -- the mayor's action could imperil the additional funding.
Griffin, speaking on his monthly radio call-in show on WBEN, said he planned to veto some items in the $642.4 million spending plan adopted by the Council, although he was not specific about which items they may be.
However, the mayor did indicate some displeasure over the Council's agreeing to increase the tax levy an additional two percentage points over the 3 percent he had recommended in his budget to be targeted solely to public schools.
Griffin suggested that the 3 percent tax increase, which raised $4.1 million for schools, is adequate.
"I raised them 3 percent just to give the Board of Education $4.1 million, and we did almost as great with the Board of Education this year as the state did," Griffin said.
"I don't know what the Council was thinking about," the mayor said of the additional tax increase.
"Here we just had a 20 percent increase in taxes last year because of the cut we got from the state government the last two years," Griffin continued. "They took money away from some of our departments to give to the Board of Education."
The mayor suggested he will evaluate just how the Council's adjustments to his budget proposal affected city departments in order to decide what items he may veto in the Council's approved spending plan. He said he planned to decide by week's end.
The Council on Friday agreed to increase the city's support to schools by an additional two percentage points, raising a total of $7.8 million more in school aid over the current budget. Under that plan, the budget allots $53.3 million for city schools.
Council Majority Leader Eugene Fahey today said that if there is a veto, the Council will vote on the tax increase item separately because it was introduced to the Council separate from the overall budget. North District Member Dale Zuchlewski, who proposed the increased school aid, today said he will be actively seeking the ninth vote for an override in case the mayor decides to veto the item.
In another matter, Griffin, in rare concert with the Council, slammed a survey on Council members published in Sunday's Buffalo News.
"It was a shame," the mayor said of the survey.
Griffin said he agreed with a cadre of Council members who held a news conference outside The News building Monday, demanding The News release to them the raw data on which Sunday's story was based.
"The Council has a right . . . to get that raw material," Griffin said.