BMHA told to devise payback plan by Nov. 21

Oct 18, 2017

Do you remember the fight over $4 million City Comptroller Mark Schroeder said the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority owed the city? The two sides apparently have agreed there is a debt, but now the question is how much.

Not only does City Hall claim the authority owes the money, it is money the city has already spent.

Credit File Photo / WBFO News

"We've already actually spent the money, so we're looking to get reimbursed," said Common Council Finance Committee Chair Richard Fontana. "Some of the money going to go to the Water Board, some of it's going to go to the general fund, but, in the meantime, those funds have already been paid out so we're looking to reimburse the taxpayers for the money we spent."

After months of behind-the-scenes activity, the authority has been told to come back to the Common Council's Finance Committee November 21 with a plan for paying back the city, along with a copy of the forensic audit conducted for the BMHA about its spending.

Fontana said the authority has finally admitted it owes the city money.
 

Common Council Finance Committee Chair Richard Fontana
Credit WBFO News file photo

"They really are. Everything we're going through shows that they potentially owe those funds," said Fontana. "Now, 1.9 at this point is natural gas and they are saying it could have been part of an agreement. But the Law Department last year opined that it wasn't part of the agreement. So we're getting to the bottom of that and we're taking every debt owed and we're taking those debts seriously. It looks like they are going to be paying back on the police services. It looks as if they are going to be paying on administrative services."

The debts remaining at issue are not only that gas bill, but also a large water bill. Fontana says it is only fair to the taxpayers who front-ended the money and want to be paid back. Fontana says it is all in good faith.

"It is reasonable," he said. "We're being very respectful and these are monies that were paid by the city. Utilities were kept on for residents. We treated residents with respect. And now, the BMHA has to also treat the city taxpayers the same way."