Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder said Tuesday that he supports Mayor Byron W. Brown’s plans to cut taxes.
“At the end of the day, having reduced taxes is one of the reasons Buffalo is doing as well as it is,” Schroeder said.
During a budget workshop Monday, Common Council members questioned Schroeder’s executive assistant about what Schroeder thought the Council should do about taxes. Patrick J. Curry declined to say. He later said the office wouldn’t be opining because the City Charter requires the comptroller to offer an assessment of the accuracy of the budget proposal’s revenues and expenses. Decisions about taxes are up to the mayor and Council, Curry said.
But on Tuesday, Schroeder said city lawmakers would be “misguided” if they eliminated Brown’s proposed property tax decrease. Brown’s 2014-15 budget calls for tax reductions of one-half percent for homeowners and 1.7 percent for commercial property owners. Schroeder credited Brown for reducing taxes over his tenure – 15.7 percent for residences and 29.6 percent for businesses, if the budget passes as proposed.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing to try to give an advantage to the taxpayers,” Schroeder said. “A tax increase should always be the last thing you’re looking at.”
He suggested the Council examine other ideas, such as closing a deficit in the city’s solid waste fund and settling a contract with police officers that saves the city money, like the city’s latest contract with firefighters. Schroeder also suggested the city contract out its emergency home repair program to an outside organization such as Belmont Housing Resources or Catholic Charities.
Schroeder has been critical of the proposed budget’s use of $27.5 million in surplus revenues, and he reiterated his concern Tuesday.
The Council’s budget workshops with department heads continue today and Thursday.