BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Mayor Byron Brown’s latest Buffalo budget proposal calls for a 4.5% raise in property taxes, which he calls a “modest increase.”
During a mayoral debate last September, Brown was critical of challenger India Walton’s smaller proposed tax increase. “3% is not a modest tax increase,” Brown said eight months ago.
So which one is it? Brown was asked about the apparent discrepancy Thursday during an interview on News 4. Here’s the exchange between Brown and News 4’s Jacquie Walker. (You can watch the full interview in the video player above.)
Jacquie Walker: The headline on that budget for a taxpayer is that you’re proposing raising taxes 4.5%. How would you characterize that increase?
Mayor Byron Brown: I would characterize it as a modest increase. If you own a $100,000 home, it’s going to be $50 more a year in taxes.
JW: OK, so the word you’re using is “modest.” Let’s dial it back a few months and see what you said when you were talking about a proposal that India Walton, your former competitor had, and she was proposing a 3% increase, and here’s what you said.
BB, on tape from September: “She said in an interview that she’s going to raise taxes by 3%; 3% is not a modest tax increase.
JW: OK, that was then, this is now. It wasn’t modest then, now it’s modest. Tell us about that. 4.5% you’re proposing.
BB: So when it comes to your money management matters, you have to listen to people who know, not people who don’t know.
JW: We’re listening to you, though, both times.
BB: Well, yes. But times were different then. The interest rates were different then. Now the interest rate is 8.5% and about to increase again. Gasoline has gone up, utilities have gone up, everything is more expensive now that it was last summer. So it’s a different time and we have to budget to address the time and to adjust for the time. And the other thing I will say –
JW: One thing, though. Everything you just described affects the homeowner, though, too. They’re on the other side of it seeing all those prices rise. And now you say taxes are going to go up 4.5%.
BB: But the public has also said that they want more services. They want snow removal to be better. They want more streets to be paved. They want more jobs for the children during the summer. They want more opportunities for the children. They want safer streets, safer schools. All of what we have proposed is to give the taxpayer what the taxpayer wants to improve their quality of life.
You can watch the full interview in the video player above.
* * *
Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as the Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.