Categories for Analysis

Sep 28

2022

Raises (but no reforms) for Buffalo police

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Buffalo police just got a raise. The city got nothing — no concessions, no reforms — in exchange. That’s the upshot of more than three years of negotiations between the Brown administration and the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, whose contract expired in July 2019. When talks stalled in early 2021, the dispute put in the hands of a state arbitrator, who was empowered only to deal with pay.  Reform — the mantra of demonstrators and elected officials alike in the summer of 2020 — was sidelined. On July 19, a state arbitration panel awarded Buffalo police raises and retroactive pay worth[...]

Posted 3 days ago

Sep 19

2022

No relief for local taxpayers on Bills stadium

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Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz likes to say the new stadium deal he and Gov. Kathy Hochul cut with the Buffalo Bills gets the county “out of the football business.” The deal, however, does not get the county out of the business of paying for a football stadium.  The county’s annual costs for the Bills current home, Highmark Stadium, have ranged from $10.7 million to $12.6 million in recent years.  Estimates provided to county lawmakers for paying off bonds to cover the county’s share of new stadium construction have come in lower, between $7.7 million and $9 million annually. The latest[...]

Posted 2 weeks ago

Sep 15

2022

Big subsidies for luxury apartments

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State and local governments eagerly offering tax subsidies to a luxury, waterfront apartment project sounds like something out of a developer’s fantasy. But that’s exactly what’s happening in North Tonawanda. The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency on Wednesday unanimously approved — without debate — a $7.2 million subsidy package for a developer building 110 apartments along the Niagara River marketed as “luxurious living in elegant surroundings.” The project is a third phase of developer VisoneCo’s aims for the section of River Road just north of Tonawanda Island. The first, which is finished, features apartments, townhomes and commercial space. The second,[...]

Posted 2 weeks ago

Sep 2

2022

Inside Amazon’s massive subsidy in Niagara

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Robert Taylor, a lifelong Niagara County resident, is thinking about moving south. Probably Florida. But Taylor isn’t chasing the warm weather and low property taxes that have drawn tens of thousands of other Northerners to the South. Rather, he’s running away from something.  Amazon.  The online retail giant plans to open a 3-million-square-foot warehouse less than a mile from his Packard Road home in the Town of Niagara. Amazon plans to employ 1,000 people at the warehouse and hundreds of cars and trucks will travel to and from the facility daily. The warehouse will be a “first mile” distribution center[...]

Posted 4 weeks ago

Aug 23

2022

Just how rich is Carl Paladino?

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  Carl Paladino, who says he’ll be “a voice for the people” in Congress, waited until the Friday before election day to tell voters how rich he is. Spoiler alert: He’s very rich. Paladino’s income was at least $4.5 million last year, according to a personal financial disclosure he filed last Friday with the U.S. House Ethics Committee. The outer limit of his income was seven times greater. In addition, he listed assets worth as much as $86 million. The Republican real-estate developer was a month late in filing the disclosure statement, required of all candidates running for federal office.[...]

Posted 1 month ago

Jul 27

2022

Byron Brown’s campaign debts

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Mayor Byron Brown’s campaign committee owes vendors more than $185,000 for goods and services they provided to his re-election effort last year. That’s according to the committee’s latest filing with the state Board of Elections, which covers all financial activity between Jan. 15 and July 11. Brown for Buffalo owes more than three times as much as it has cash on hand, according to that report. It owes more than four times what the mayor reported raising over the past six months. The mayor’s campaign committee lists the debts as “outstanding liabilities/loans,” but most appear to be unpaid invoices. According[...]

Posted 2 months ago

Jul 25

2022

Buffalo is slowly losing its trees

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 Buffalo is cutting down twice as many trees as it’s planting. And residents are noticing the loss. “It’s nothing like when I was a child,” said Catherine Faust, a Highland Avenue resident in the city’s Elmwood Village.  From 2016 through 2020, the city cut down more than 4,300 trees. They only planted about 1,900 new ones.  An Investigative Post analysis found the rate of tree loss is greater in parts of the East Side. Masten District, for example, lost four times as many trees as were planted. “It is one of the most despicable things that I can imagine[...]

Posted 2 months ago

Jul 11

2022

City Hall puts off day of financial reckoning

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The COVID pandemic has been very good for the City of Buffalo’s finances. Pandemic relief funds from the federal American Rescue Plan have been a tremendous boon. You can see that money at work right now in city streets and parks. It’s going to help pay for water and sewer projects, as well as micro-loans to small businesses and the expansion of broadband internet access. It helped keep poor city residents in their homes. Most important for city government has been revenue replacement money — cash the federal government sent to make up for revenue the city claims it lost[...]

Posted 3 months ago