The Mayor’s State of the City production will be reduced and free this year | Buffalo Political News

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown is forgoing the large, elaborate production that his annual State of the City Address has become, opting instead for a scaled-down — and free — version this year.

He also combines the annual address with the presentation of his 2022-23 budget proposal, which is due May 1 and usually unveiled at a ceremony at City Hall.

The state of the city event, which Brown has used to raise money for his nonprofit, is traditionally held in February. but this year’s changes are mainly due to Covid uncertainty.

“With the moving target that Covid continues to be, we felt that a lunch-type affair had the potential to present more problems and would have been more difficult to change at the last minute, if necessary,” the doorman said. – city spokesperson, Michael J. DeGeorge. mentioned. “We are thrilled to be able to present the State of the City and Budget presentation in a venue like Northland, especially considering that last year’s State of the City was to be virtual.”

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Brown will give his 16th speech — Building a Buffalo Without Borders — at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Northland Workforce Training Center with about 300 guests and no lunch served.

Participants include municipal officials, developers and entrepreneurs, civic leaders and community activists, business leaders and members of the faith community. The program will also be streamed live on Mayor Brown’s Facebook page

A highlight of the event will be Brown’s presentation of his 2022-23 budget recommendation.

City officials have been optimistic about Buffalo’s financial situation. They forecast a surplus — possibly up to around $16 million — in the current 2021-22 budget that ends June 30 based on second-quarter financial reports. Third quarter figures have not yet been released. The city also expects to soon receive approximately $35 million owed to it under the casino’s revenue-sharing pact with New York State and the Seneca Nation of Indians.

Additionally, the city closed the 2020-21 budget with a surplus of $14.8 million. Several factors explain the surplus: federal stimulus aid from the U.S. bailout, increased sales tax revenue, the restoration of state aid payments, reduced spending and savings from the prepayment of a $25 million revenue shortfall note, the loan the city took out to cover lost tax revenue during the pandemic.

This year’s shortened State of the Town address stands in stark contrast to what the program has become: an increasingly popular and expensive event in Buffalo for movers to rub shoulders with and be seen. A record 2,200 people paid $65 per ticket in 2020 — an increase of $15 from the previous year — to eat lunch at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center and listen to Brown. Dozens of companies donated thousands more to be listed as event sponsors.

In its early years, the event typically cost between $30,000 and $40,000 a year and drew around 1,100 people paying $35 per ticket to attend, records show.

The nonprofit fund Brown created, Mayor Brown’s Fund to Advance Buffalo, controls the more than $270,000 the city state has raised — after all event bills are paid — since Brown became mayor in 2006. In its 2019 tax return, the nonprofit said it generated $206,560 in gross revenue from fundraising that year, with most of it generated by the State of the City event. But the nonprofit spent 81% of that — all but $39,634 — on food and drink, entertainment and other unspecified direct fundraising expenses.

Advance Buffalo’s mission is to support charitable organizations. The money will eventually be donated to charity, the mayor said.

Christy J. Olson