Common Council discusses bringing back mileage reimbursement

Jul 20, 2016

Buffalo Common Councilmembers drive thousands of miles a year for the job and are now looking for some cash to pay car costs.

Many city officials have assigned cars and others can use city cars for work. They can be seen lined up outside City Hall.

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

However, Councilmembers are on their own for the mileage, since a car allowance was abolished to save money nearly two decades ago. At Tuesday's Council meeting, members discussed a flat-rate fee of $5,000 for using a personal car for work.

Council President Darius Pridgen cited his own experience just Monday.

"Twenty miles in between meetings. Now, of course, the mileage doesn't include coming from home here. I live rather close, anyway. From the BURA meetings to BERC to the other committees I sit on and then the neighborhood meetings tonight," Pridgen recounted. "Different Councilmembers put on different amounts of miles, depending on what they have in their day, but they put a lot of miles on their own personal cars."

Majority Leader David Rivera supported the reimbursement proposal.
"We put on quite a bit of mileage, not only going to and from our local districts, but also throughout the city and sometimes outside the city to different places," Rivera said, "and we're constantly going back and forth from City Hall. We're leaving, going to the district, coming back. It's not just that, it's the wear and tear on our vehicles. It's the gas mileage. It's also the depreciation that also happens as a result of all the mileage."

The proposal would be an annual stipend for those who use the car at least 120 days a year. This follows a recent raise in the stipend for those holding leaderhip positions in the Council. The actual pay for Councilmembers has not increased since 1997.

The public can listen to the arguments on next week when the measure comes before the Legislation Committee.