After Siphoning Reserves, Buffalo Faces Budgetary Reckoning

Nov. 6, 2019

Buffalo Common Council leaders have met with Mayor Byron W. Brown to talk about how to replenish the city’s budgetary reserves amid warnings from rating agencies. (Derek Gee/News file photo)
Buffalo Common Council leaders have met with Mayor Byron W. Brown to talk about how to replenish the city’s budgetary reserves amid warnings from rating agencies.

The City of Buffalo is expecting a surplus of about $1 million to close the books on the 2018-19 budget year, thanks to New York State advancing $7.5 million of $17 million in Seneca Nation casino funds owed the city.

But though the anticipated advance lets the city turn a potential deficit into a surplus, the turnaround may not be enough to reverse a recent downgrade in Buffalo’s bond rating despite Mayor Byron W. Brown’s suggestion that it might.

It also might not be enough to avert budget cuts if city leaders don’t want to raises taxes to replenish the depleted reserves that led to the downgrade.

In a telephone interview with The Buffalo News days after the downgrade earlier this fall, Brown called the rosier surplus outlook “new information” that Fitch Ratings did not have when it downgraded the city to A+ from AA.
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