Mayor Byron W. Brown’s proposed budget was approved by the Common Council on Tuesday after very few changes from lawmakers.
A proposal to add two crime surveillance cameras in each of nine Council districts from Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk was dismissed by his colleagues.
The Council majority, of which Franczyk is not a member, said the administration is planning to add nine or 10 cameras through grant funds, a process that happens outside of the city’s operating budget.
The city has about 200 such cameras and has received 600 requests for additional cameras.
Franczyk had proposed paying for more cameras, which are about $20,000 each, with unspent funds in the budget line that pays for perfect attendance bonuses for police officers.
That wouldn’t work, however, because while the budget line looks unspent, the bonuses are paid out at the end of the year and the line will eventually be depleted, said Council President Richard A. Fontana.
The Council majority and the Brown administration worked out the budget details Tuesday, and in the afternoon the majority presented its amendments, which totaled just $232,661, or less than one-half of one percent of the $482.5 million spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1.
The budget does not raise taxes or fees.
The Council mostly tinkered with the budget for the city clerk’s office and its own staff budgets, bringing low-paid employees up to a living wage and adding $7,000 to each Council member’s discretionary funds, which go toward grants for community organizations such as little leagues and senior centers.
The Council also added $100,000 for arts and cultural groups and $8,000 to give the city’s government access television channel the capability to broadcast live programming, such as Council meetings and emergency weather updates.
Lawmakers also added $30,000 to pay for a truancy aide, who will be in the community, visiting students’ homes. That complements a $171,000 allocation in the budget that will pay for two attendance teachers.
The Council and administration also came to an agreement for an auction of vacant, undevelopable lots adjacent to homes, and it should happen in August or September, said Majority Leader Demone A. Smith. The administration also agreed to spend money it had budgeted to purchase noise meters so police can enforce noise ordinances.
The Council is hoping to generate $6 million through an audit of light poles, a change in the way business is done at the city’s garbage transfer station, and a focused effort to recover money owed to the city, though those revenues are not included in the budget.
In other business Tuesday:
• The Council approved amendments to block grant funding plans after hearing from community center directors frustrated with the way federal block grant funds have been cut and distributed.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has required the city to change its processes, which has delayed the distribution of block grant funds to community service agencies.
Communication with City Hall “was inadequate during this funding crisis,” Laura Kelly, of the Old First Ward Community Association, told lawmakers.
The amendments will finance capital improvements to community centers.
• The Planning Board heard a lively debate over the location of a cell tower on Northampton Street on the East Side. The Community Action Organization of Erie County, which hosts a temporary tower, is opposed to T-Mobile’s plan to locate a permanent tower on nearby St. Martin de Porres Church, saying it would be too close to the road.
The board delayed taking action at the request of Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen, who urged the parties to work out their differences.
• The board approved plans for a music club by Savarino Cos. at 49 Illinois St. in the Cobblestone District and plans from architect Steven Carmina to renovate 9 Genesee St. to become a residence and commercial space.