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Milroy plans to resign as budget director next month

Mayor Byron W. Brown's top fiscal adviser plans to resign next month to accept an administrative post at Geneseo State College.

James B. Milroy has been finance commissioner since 2002 and served as budget director for eight years. He confirmed Friday that he has accepted an offer to become director of budget and financial analysis at Geneseo State College.

For the past 12 years, Milroy has played a key role in forging fiscal policy. More recently, he has been the City Hall liaison to the state control board that oversees Buffalo's spending.

Administration sources said efforts have been under way in recent days to try to find a way to keep Milroy. But Milroy said Friday he plans on stepping down April 19 and will begin his new job a day later. He stressed the decision is no reflection on Brown, and that he has enjoyed working with the new administration in the past three months.

"I just believe that this will ultimately be better for me and my son in the long term. I'm going into an environment where there's a lot of potential for professional growth," he said. "I'll be turning 50 in May, and I'm looking ahead."

He said the new post will pay slightly more than his current $83,000 salary and also may include a chance to teach classes at his alma mater. He received a bachelor's degree in political science from Geneseo in 1981.

Shortly after Brown was elected mayor, he singled out Milroy as one of the commissioners from the Masiello administration whom he hoped to retain.

Peter K. Cutler, Brown's communications director, said the mayor will comment on Milroy's resignation at the "appropriate time." Cutler was asked how the pending departure will affect the budget process. Brown must submit a spending plan to the Common Council May 1. Milroy has been a pivotal player in Council budget deliberations that are held the first three weeks in May.

"These are issues we're still looking at," said Cutler of how the administration plans to fill the void. "We're going to focus on making sure the budget process moves along seamlessly without interruption."

Control board officials could not be reached to comment on Milroy's pending departure.

The chairman of the Council's Budget Committee said Milroy has helped steer the city through some "very, very difficult" fiscal times.

"Everyone would agree that he knows the budget inside and out," said Dominic J. Bonifacio Jr. of Niagara. "He's also a person who is tough enough to say no when he needs to."

Milroy has made a career of mixing complex fiscal analysis with pithy quotes. He arrived in City Hall 18 years ago when then-Council President George K. Arthur hired him as senior legislative assistant. When Anthony M. Masiello became mayor, he appointed Milroy his budget director.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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