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September 2012 Column - Unsettled lease agreement leaves unanswered questions


This request comes on the heels of a recent Notice of Claim filed against the county executive
Rural Outreach Center provides a number of services and programs to those in need throughout rural sections of Erie County
The budget process ensured these outstanding organizations are offered funding from Erie County
A first-hand look at the Sheriff’s Road Patrol Division
Home Energy Assistance Program outreaches to assist residents with this year’s application process

I hope that everyone had a safe and enjoyable summer and is as happy as I am to see the arrival of fall and a new Buffalo Bills season. It is no secret that I am football fan and I watched, with disappointment, as the season started off to a shaky start but after week two have hope the team will turn it around.


Unfortunately, the feeling of disappointment surrounding our hometown team wasn’t just on the field. Diehard fans and taxpayers alike were frustrated when it was announced days after losing the first game that negotiations between the County Executive and Buffalo Bills officially stalled. In the months leading up to training camp we hoped to not only see development of the team and a new lease agreement. The County Executive set the start of training camp as his goal of having a memorandum of understanding in place for the new lease but that did not come to fruition.


This lease agreement is not only important to fans but to all taxpayers. Should the agreement keep the Bills here long term, it will utilize tax dollars. How much of your taxes would be allocated is yet to be determined. I have heard from both sides – those who want the Bills to stay in Buffalo and those who aren’t in support of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to do so. Without a lease we don’t have security either way and cannot adequately plan for the future.


There are many factors to consider. An argument can certainly be made for keeping the team here. The Bills have a positive fiscal impact on the economy, generating nearly $20 million in New York State taxes annually, as well as an annual economic impact to the region estimated at $100 million. 


For now, the only guarantee we have is a one-year extension of the current lease agreement. That raises some questions about the county budget and four-year plan. Fans and residents are left asking, how long we can expect the team to be in Buffalo, and what it will cost in public funding?


In hopes of settling the lease agreement and getting answers to those lingering questions, I have co-sponsored a resolution, submitted to the Legislature for the Sept. 20, 2012 session, requesting that the administration send representatives to upcoming committee meetings to discuss the impact of the one year lease on the 2013 budget and the four year plan and to discuss in what ways the legislature can assist the administration in its negotiations with the Buffalo Bills.


I would like to see serious negotiations resume soon. The taxpayers deserve a finalized and approved long-term lease agreement that keeps the team here and doesn’t unfairly impact them financially.