Buffalo City Hall was open today, though some departments were lightly staffed, and even though the Common Council met, it convened two hours ahead of schedule so staff could get home.
Mayor Byron W. Brown stressed the importance of continuing a sense of normalcy, explaining why City Hall was open when nearly every other Niagara Square institution – including federal, state and city courts – was closed.
“We believe that our roads were passable, that we weren’t experiencing the same rate and amount of snowfall, and that we could operate city government,” Brown said. “And what we have found is that when you’re able to operate you should operate because that helps to return the community to a sense of normalcy more quickly, and has less impact on people’s ability to work and earn a livelihood.”
Drivers in the city avoided much of the poor visibility and snowfall experienced in other communities, though South Buffalo did receive a foot of snow in some places, Brown said. As of late this afternoon, the city had not suffered any fatalities or serious accidents because of the storm.
Calls to 311, the city’s non-emergency help line, did not increase because of the storm, though many of the calls that did come in concerned changes to the city’s garbage pick-up schedule, Brown said.
Garbage pick-up that was canceled today will resume Wednesday, meaning that pick-up around the city will be delayed by one day for the rest of the week. Garbage that should have been picked up Wednesday will be collected on Thursday, and the one-day delay will continue until Saturday, when garbage that should have been picked up Friday will be collected.
The city has not instituted any driving bans, though unnecessary travel is discouraged, and the city is enforcing parking restrictions, which allow plows to clear the roads.
By keeping City Hall open, the city could be saving money. When City Hall is closed, essential workers who would be called in to work anyway, such as those in the 311 call center, are paid overtime.
The city had, at times, 40 pieces of snow removal and salting equipment on the road, Brown said. In addition to keeping in touch with key department heads, Brown also spoke to Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo throughout the storm.
Brown had planned to leave today for the State of the State address, to be delivered by Cuomo on Wednesday in Albany.
He changed his plans when conditions in South Buffalo worsened, he said. Now he is planning to leave Wednesday morning.
He goes to the speech every year, he said, and thinks it’s important to represent the community.