The City of Buffalo’s fiscal crisis

It is the holiday season. There are decorations everywhere, likely even in Buffalo City Hall. Lots of red and green.

But I’m thinking here more about something familiar to many Western New Yorkers when they think about a crisis in municipal finance. The red and green I’m referring to is the Erie County government financial crisis brought on in 2004 when former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra presented two versions of a 2005 county budget. One would have cut spending in a draconian way – the red budget. The second was the green version, which would have balanced the budget by raising the sales tax by one percent – referred to as the “Medicaid penny.” Continue reading

Economic development is VERY expensive

When World War II ended and America got back to the business of business – building cars instead of tanks – government units like industrial development agencies had not been created. I don’t believe that big tax incentives to lure manufacturers and other businesses from one community to another with tax incentives were very common back then either. Factories built in the early twentieth century were already in place and the workforce to operate them had returned from military service. Continue reading

As the dust settles, reviewing the 2018 elections and taking a small peek at what comes next

Poor Rick Scott. All those tens of millions of dollars of his own money, and it might not have been enough to buy a Senate seat in Florida. Maybe just $10 million more would have done the trick.

Or maybe he will wind up winning the re-count. It is Florida, after all, where they are pretty good at screwing up recounts and getting rolled by Brooks Brothers riots. The Supreme Court may be standing by to deliver another Republican victory if it gets to their desks. Continue reading

County issues in the forefront

It’s budget time in Erie County. Town budgets for 2019 are quietly moving along. Not a lot of media focus on them, which is not a good thing. The focus, such as it is, is on Mark Poloncarz’s proposed $1.53 billion 2019 county budget.

While there will be another budget revealed a year from now, just prior to the 2019 election for Erie County Executive, the 2019 budget that the County Legislature will act on by early December is for all intents and purposes the budget that will play a role in the 2019 election concerning spending and tax issues. Continue reading