Publication Date

11-15-2003

Category

Poverty/Income Inequality, Economic Development, Education

Abstract

The current fiscal crisis of the City of Buffalo arises from and exemplifies the failure of state and local government over many decades to respond adequately to the shift of population, and especially the disproportionate shift of wealth, from the old central cities to the ever growing urban fringe beyond their boundaries. For example, the Town of Amherst, with a population of 110,000 now has a larger real property tax base than the City of Buffalo, with a population of 293,000. The State Constitution severely inhibits the use of annexation, intergovernmental agreement, and reorganization of local government to provide and finance services on a regional basis. Essentially, the Constitution entrenches 19th Century municipal boundaries and requires suburban consent to significant reform. The relatively prosperous suburbs, whose development has been subsidized by the federal and state governments, have had little incentive to consent to a more equitable sharing of regional obligations and resources.

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