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City Hallways (March 10) A $2 million question

The borrowing question re-emerges

City officials have verbally dueled with the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority over the years over which agency should do the city's borrowing.

Buffalo has been doing its own borrowing for years now, having gotten back into the market even before the control board went "soft" in 2012.

But the dueling continues.

The city could have saved $2 million over the past four years by letting the control board do its borrowing,  control board officials said during their meeting earlier this week.

That's too simplistic an analysis,  according to the city comptroller's office, which argues the city must establish its own credit-worthiness for the long term, and not rely on a control board that is only in place for the short-term.

The city's credit-worthiness, in fact, has improved in recent years - reducing its interest costs - as Buffalo has resumed borrowing, noted Patrick Curry, a spokesman for city comptroller Mark Schroeder.

"They think they could save us money, but it would cost us in the long run," Curry said Thursday.

"I understand why the comptroller wants to issue his own, but there should be a middle ground between the FSA and comptroller doing it all, which would save money," said control board member Frederick G. Floss, who chairs the economics and finance department at SUNY Buffalo State College.

By the way, the control board, created in 2003 by the state, went "soft" in 2012,  reflecting the city's improved finances. As a soft board, it reviews and comments on city fiances, but has no authority to  veto the city's spending decisions. The board is scheduled to dissolve in 2037.

Allen Street compromise

A compromise is being considered for a building at 15 Allen St. that the owner says needs to come down, but preservationists want to remain standing.

What about keeping the facade, then knocking the rest of the building down?

"It's a good case for facading so the streetscape can be maintained," said city Preservation Board member Richard Lippes.

An architect working with the building owner is expected to come back to the Preservation Board with a decision in two weeks.

Architect Adam Sokol has said a redevelopment plan was initially created that would add a third floor to the two-story building, but federal preservation officials rejected the plan.

As a result, Sokol has said, it isn't financially feasible to restore the building. The owner is suggesting demolishing the building, and building a new larger one at the site.

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