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Public input on American Rescue Plan funds sought by Buffalo leaders

Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen says a public meeting will be announced this week.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Earlier this week The Buffalo News first reported that the Buffalo Common Council hasn't heard a thing about how most of the federal stimulus money coming into the city will be spent. 

2 On Your Side checked in with Common Council President Darius Pridgen for an update on Wednesday night.

Pridgen said he wants to move forward instead of backward. He added that, at this point, he has no reason to believe there won't be "great communication" between the administration and the council when it comes to where the money will go. 

"I want to be clear, this money didn't just drop from the sky. It comes out of taxpayers' pockets," Pridgen said.

Pridgen stressed the need for public input when it comes to the distribution of American Rescue Plan funds.

"I think it's very important that the council also hears from the community so that we make sure that this huge amount of money will be spent in a way that will help our city and people who've suffered from this pandemic," Pridgen said.

We know some of the money has been accounted for already.

For example, last week Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, alongside some common council members, announced that the City is spending $13 million to expand the Water and Sewer Amnesty program.

Relief for low-income residents! Today, members of the Buffalo Common Council and OJ McFoy, General Manager of the...

Posted by Mayor Byron W. Brown on Friday, July 2, 2021

Additionally, Pridgen told 2 On Your Side, "As of Tuesday, we voted and agreed with the mayor on expanding the summer youth program. We know a lot of families have been hurt by the pandemic financially. We wanted to make sure that was expanded and that was probably the major item of Tuesday's meeting." 

Another item of Tuesday's meeting was a resolution on how the mayor's office should handle decisions with the funding from here on out.

"The resolution was passed unanimously, which basically calls on the administration to work closely with the council in the early stages instead of simply presenting something to the council, to work with the council in advance," Pridgen said.

A spokesperson for the mayor told 2 On Your Side via text, "The administration will be working very closely with the Council. The Council will have the ability to make recommendations and they will approve the overall plan."

Pridgen said, "The council did vote to accept the money but not having, at this point, a known plan to us we are simply asking for a pause on the movement or the requests of the council until we have had a chance to meet with the public and meet with the administration." 

Pridgen said Wednesday evening that public meeting should be announced within the next 24 hours.

Another way you can provide your thoughts on funding, the City has a survey online seeking input from community members that will be live through July 30. You can find that survey here

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