Groups bring funding pleas to Council chambers

May 15, 2012

The local cultural community and the school board told separate Common Council budget hearings last night they need more funding.

Led by Interim Schools Superintendent Amber Dixon, the Council was given a detailed look at deteriorating finances with cuts in state aid as costs like pensions, retiree health insurance, and teacher salaries go up.

Nonetheless, Dixon offered an optimistic tone.

"We could make a model of Buffalo.  We've got the model schools. We've got  the best kids in the country. By building this partnership and trusting each other, we have a chance to show we can solve in Buffalo that we can't solve in Detroit or L.A."
Dixon says there is progress but the financial problems aren't helping.

Cultural agencies are looking for a defined amount of money, $450,000 to start restoring city operating aid to culturals, both large and small.

Irish Classical Theatre Company Producing Director Fortunato Pezzimenti believes the increase will pay off in additional cultural tourism.

"We believe funding by the city is not a hand out,"  Pezzimenti said. "City support would be one important element of that budget pie."

For the first time in years, the city put money into the culturals last year in what was  described as "emergency aid" because of county cuts in cultural aid.

The Council has until Tuesday to produce its own spending plan or Mayor Brown's budget goes into effect untouched.