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Brown proposes increases in Buffalo property taxes, user fees

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For only the second time in his 16 years as Buffalo's mayor, Bryon Brown proposes to increase property taxes.

His $568 million spending plan for 2022-23 recommends increasing residential property taxes by 5% and commercial property taxes by 6.6%.

Recycling and garbage user fees would also rise by about 4%.

He calls for setting aside more funding for public safety, youth employment and training, and new snow removal equipment.

The city's spending would increase by about 6%, which is below the 8.5% inflation rate, said Brown, who will release the budget at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

He proposes a tax rate of $10.38 per $1,000 of assessed value for residential properties and $18.35 for commercial properties. For owners of a home assessed at $100,000, the tax increase would be about $50. For owners of commercial properties assessed at the same amount, the increase would be $114.

Even with the increases, the proposed tax rates would be lower than those in surrounding communities and other upstate cities, Brown said.

“The tax rate will still be lower than when I first took office” in 2006, Brown said.

Back then, the residential tax rate was $20.95 and the commercial rate was $37.41, Brown said.

The proposed budget includes revenue of approximately $52 million in American Rescue Plan funds.

The tax hikes would generate about $6.7 million more in the city tax levy, a 4.5% increase.

Property taxes were last increased as part of the 2018-19 budget, when the residential property rate increased by 3.4% and the commercial rate went up 5.5%.

The fee for a 35-gallon tote would increase to $169, up from $162. A 65-gallon tote would go up to $208 from $200. And the fee for a 95-gallon tote would jump to $247.11 from $238, Brown said. The hikes would help the city's solid waste fund become self-sustainable.

The proposed tax and fee increases result from increases in contractual obligations, utilities and supply costs, Brown said.

The increases would help pay for additional spending “to keep Buffalo safer, stronger and prosperous,” Brown said.

The spending plan includes:

• New police and fire vehicles

• Technology called ShotSpotter, which detects and pinpoints the location of gunfire

• 19 new vehicles for the Department of Public Works to address winter snow-plowing issues

• State-of-the-art GPS systems for DPW vehicles

• Expanding the city’s youth employment and training efforts to provide employment opportunities year-round for young people

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