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November 1, 2021
Buffalo, NY— Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams and Mayor Byron W. Brown announced that the City’s fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, ended with a $14.8 million surplus. This amount was confirmed through the Annual Update Document that the Comptroller filed with the Office of the State Comptroller on Friday. The $14.8 million surplus is a record high for Buffalo since 2013 and further demonstrates the successful strategy the Comptroller and Mayor and employed to prudently manage the City’s finances during these economically stressful times. After adding in this surplus, the City’s total fund balance is now $104.3 million. The City’s assigned fund balance is fully funded and its unassigned fund balance, now has a balance of $8.2 million.
Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams said “In this report of the City’s finances an increase in sales tax receipts, a reduction of budget expenditures, and receipt of American Rescue Plan Act funds have resulted in a surplus. It is important to note that with this surplus, the Assigned Fund Balance is now fully funded at $16.8 million and the Unassigned Fund Balance, which had previously been exhausted, is now at $8.2 million. While Fiscal Year 2020-2021 audit report allows for an improved outlook on The City’s finances, City leaders must remain fiscally responsible. I will continue to work with the Administration, Buffalo Council Members, and Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority (BFSA) to maintain a unified priority in growing the City’s Fund Balance.”
Mayor Brown said, “When the global COVID-19 pandemic began, my Administration adopted a fiscal course that controlled costs while at the same time positioned us to recover rapidly when the worst of the pandemic passed. We did this by keeping the City’s workforce intact, reducing spending in areas where adjustments could be made because a significant portion of the workforce could now perform their duties remotely, and deploying federal small business and housing assistance effectively to help protect residents from the pandemic’s most harmful social and economic impacts. As a result of these smart, sound and strategic decisions Buffalo’s fiscal position is stronger than at any time during the pandemic and is now resuming the positive trajectory we were on before the pandemic began.”
Before the pandemic, Buffalo was on track to post a budget surplus at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 fiscal year and was experiencing consistent revenue and economic growth. When the global and regional economy lapsed into a recession because of the public health safety measures that had to be employed to slow the spread and flatten the curve, the City of Buffalo embarked on a deliberate strategy of spending—funded in part by short-term municipal bond borrowing and stimulus funds—and resisted austerity measures which would have resulted in layoffs and cuts to critically needed services. The City was able to leave its $38 million rainy-day fund untouched and maintain it as a source of fiscal reserve in the unlikely event that federal relief did not arrive in time or the amount budgeted. Because of these strategies, Buffalo is now experiencing a stronger economic recovery than originally anticipated.
In addition to the surplus in the City’s fund balance, several ratings agencies have stabilized Buffalo’s financial outlook and the City have still been able to access the capital bond market at historically low rates of interest. This is another sign of the financial industry’s growing confidence in the City’s fiscal outlook and sound fiscal management. In combination with the investments into the local economy from the City’s American Rescue Plan funding, as well as the City Capital Budget and other forthcoming federal and state aid, Buffalo is expected to remain on its positive revenue growth trajectory while also eliminating many of the economic barriers residents have faced while working to secure a better future through greater access to good-paying jobs, educational opportunities, quality housing, and safer neighborhoods.