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Binghamton, Buffalo hear the state of their cities

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown delivered his state of the city yesterday, along with news of a property tax freeze.
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Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown delivered his state of the city yesterday, along with news of a property tax freeze.

Buffalo and Binghamton both heard the state of their cities yesterday.

In Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said he wants to freeze property taxes for three years to give taxpayers more certainty.  Brian Meyer at the Buffalo News reports that the idea is being well received:

"People are going to be glad to hear this," [Seneca-Babcock Community Block Club president) Arthur Robinson said. "This will keep more money in people's pockets." A former city lawmaker who is now a prominent banker also praised the planned tax freeze. "The worst enemy of development in any community is an increase in taxes, and this is a good step in the right direction," said David P. Rutecki, an administrative vice president at M&T Bank and former Council member.

In Binghamton, Mayor Matt Ryan shared an optimistic speech about the city's economic development efforts, reports Nancy Dooling at the Press & Sun-Bulletin:

To make sure the city and its businesses benefit from the potential spending power of more than 670 college students living downtown, Ryan said he has created a new commission to look at how the city can help fuel downtown growth. "We're going to come out on the other side," Ryan said after his hour-long speech. "(Economic growth) is the thing that is going to get us there." Ryan's speech was upbeat and pragmatic -- focusing on development issues and economic growth. That's in contrast to many of his previous "State of the City" speeches, which have put more emphasis on progressive issues, like "green" initiatives and development of groceries in poor neighborhoods.

Parks prize
More good news in Binghamton: the city is in the running for a Livable Cities Award, for its "Design Your Own Park" contest.  It's competing against seven other projects for the honor, for a $100,000 top prize, reports George Basler at the Press & Sun-Bulletin:

"The money is huge, but so is the recognition of Binghamton as an innovator in neighborhood improvement," said David Sloan Wilson, a Binghamton University faculty member and director of the Binghamton Neighborhood Project. The project calls for neighborhood groups to develop plans to turn neglected urban spaces into small parks. Five such efforts are under way in Binghamton, Wilson said.

The Innovation Trail's Emma Jacobs has covered one of the design-your-own parks - an effort to build a dog run.  That idea has since come to fruition, and miniature greyhound Lila couldn't be more pleased.

“Triumph of the city”
One advocate that Binghamton and Buffalo (and other upstate urban areas) have on their side is Harvard economist Ed Glaeser.  He appeared on the Daily Show last night to talk about urbanization (h/t Real Time Economics).

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