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Editorial: SanFilippo to the rescue

Buffalo taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief. Interim City Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams has persuaded a well-regarded predecessor, Andrew A. SanFilippo, to leave Albany, take a pay cut and come work for her.

She needs the help.

SanFilippo, 68, had worked under four city comptrollers before he captured the top job here. Now he’s coming home.

San Filippo has been executive deputy state comptroller for the past eight years, with a current salary of $193,933. By returning to Buffalo, his pay will be cut by 46% to $105,252.

It has only been a few months since Miller-Williams, a former Erie County legislator and Buffalo police officer, was named by the Common Council as interim comptroller. In that time, she has sown financial confusion and demonstrated that she needs the help of a professional.

The problem began in early May, when she issued an appropriately cautionary report on the city’s proposed 2019-20 budget, which had been unanimously approved by the Common Council.

But only two weeks later, Miller-Williams filed a revised and rosier report that contained different revenue figures and which was much less critical of the budget delivered by her longtime political ally, Mayor Byron W. Brown. She later said that she rewrote the report herself without any input from the mayor.

Only days later, though, a special assistant and a certified public accountant from her office told Council members to discard her second report and to rely upon the original one.

The first report was written by holdover staff of her predecessor, Mark J.F. Schroeder. That one was both objective and fiscally conservative.

Cue SanFilippo. He served 37 years in city government, leaving in 2011 for the state comptroller’s office. He will be in a position to offer wise counsel to his boss. His experience in the comptroller’s office, both as an employee and as leader, should well serve Miller-Williams – and the city’s taxpayers. Her office will submit a three-month residency waiver as part of SanFilippo’s application. It has the option of extending it for another three months.

Let’s hope no waivers are needed and that SanFilippo moves back home, where he will surely be welcome.

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