Thousands of debts currently owed to City of Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- A new report shows hundreds of organizations and people owe the City of Buffalo more than $8 million. The Common Council is now calling for a policy to get the debts paid.

“This is the list right here,” said Common Council President Darius Pridgen, showing News 4 a roughly 250 page document.

It’s a list of entities that owe the city money who have not been billed in a year. There are more than 3,200 debts on the list and many people and organizations are listed multiple times.

“There are major organizations that allegedly owe the city money back to ‘04 and ’05,” said Pridgen.

Many of the organizations listed have started paying back the debt.

We looked looked closely and discovered BMHA, Erie County, National Fuel and various community centers all still owe money, according to the report.

The Common Council gave BMHA a grant this week despite owing the city more than $3 million, according to the Comptroller’s Office.

“I promise you if some of the people on the list owe the city money and we don’t continue to fund them, there would be protests outside of City Hall,” said Pridgen.

Pridgen is calling for a policy to address the money owed.

“We have to work out what are you going to do, how are you going to pay it off, can you pay it off?” said Pridgen. “We have people that have passed on, why are we carrying them on our books?”

We asked Buffalo Comptroller’s Office what is being done to get the money back.

“We dealt with Erie County,” said Patrick Curry, the executive assistant to the Comptroller. “We’ve been trying to work out an agreement. They owe us money for heating bills and we’re currently in meetings with them to get them the documentation they need to pay us back so it’s really a case by case basis.”

Curry said they have been working for years to collect the debt.

“We focus on the big dollar amounts, there are some in the million dollar range or more,” said Curry. “We focus on those primarily.”

Curry said, however, it is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Treasury to collect debts owed to the city.

Council President Pridgen said he is going to go to the administration Thursday to suggest putting a policy in place to figure out how to get the money more efficiently.

“This policy should deal with how often there should be write offs,” said Pridgen. “This policy should also deal with some elasticity because if something is in dispute, do we want to close a community center that allegedly owes us money that’s servicing children?”

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