Better Buffalo Bulletin Board

People

1. Support Living Wages

The Buffalo School Board should pass a living wage policy similar to the City of Buffalo’s to ensure that Buffalo School District employees and employees of the District’s service contractors are provided with family supporting wages.

2. Strengthen the Safety Net

New York State should raise the welfare grant and earned income disregard for people on public assistance.  These figures have not increased in two decades.

3. Expand and Improve Early Childhood Education

New York State should expand the size and flexibility of Universal Pre-Kindergarten funding.  Unused funds should be reinvested in districts where allocated funds were exhausted rather than going back into the State’s general fund.

4. Improve Access to Public Services for Non-English Speakers

The City of Buffalo and Erie County should create Limited English Proficiency (LEP) plans to come into compliance with Federal civil rights regulations requiring language access for all public services.  A single task force should be formed by the City and County in conjunction with the Western New York Refugee and Asylee Consortium to draft and implement LEP plans for both the City and County.

Place

1. Create Complete Streets

The City of Buffalo and Erie County should develop transparent and public processes to institutionalize their Complete Streets Ordinances – requiring the accommodation of pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users as well as cars – in all public works projects.

2. Permit Land Banks

New York State should pass legislation which allows for the creation of regional land banks to deal with vacant and abandoned property management and reclamation at the request of local governments.

3. Protect Restore New York

New York State should preserve and expand the Restore New York program which provides resources to struggling communities, enabling a parallel application process which opens funding opportunities to non-profits as well as local governments.

4. Establish a Restore Erie County Fund

Erie County should recognize the regional challenge of distressed communities and implement a Restore Erie County fund, which would provide resources for housing weatherization, rehab, deconstruction, mothballing, and blight abatement.

5. Reform the agency and mechanism in charge of cultural funding

Erie County in conjunction with Arts and Cultural Organizations should overhaul the Erie County Cultural Advisory Board (ECCRAB). Cultural funding from Erie County should be handled through the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County using the New York State Council on the Arts model.

6. Create a Cultural Plan

The City of Buffalo and Erie County in conjunction with Arts and Cultural Organizations should create a cultural plan for the Greater Buffalo region that promotes the broader economic development needs and opportunities within the city.

Governance

1. Consolidate Bridge Authorities

The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority should merge with the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission. In the short term, New York State should appoint the same people to serve as directors of each body.

2. Merge Tax Assessment Offices

New York State and local municipalities should merge the thirty separate real property assessment offices in Erie County into one office, realizing an annual savings of $2.1 million to $3.9 million and eliminating inconsistencies and inequities in the current system.

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