The Niagara Reporter

Reporter’s Call For An Elected City Controller Meets With Rousing Support

Maria Brown is the city’s longtime controller. She is responsible for overseeing the city’s finances and serves at the will of the mayor and the council.
If the position were elected, as it is in many cities, the office would be independent of the political whims of spendthrift officials. An elected controller cannot propose to spend money but can oppose the spending on the grounds that it is irresponsible.
An appointed controller has to be concerned about calling out her bosses – the mayor and council – on being wasteful.
In the highest taxed city in the highest taxed state, it makes sense to have an independent, elected controller who can fearlessly put the brakes on the spending that has hit this city like a plague.


The Reporter has written any number of articles in the past calling for changes in city government, but never – never – have we received such an immediate and supportive response as our column last week where we called for the city controller position to be made an elected position.

The readers had an almost intuitive response in as much as they know that something is elementally wrong in the way the city manages its finances, develops its annual budget, and administers its casino revenue account. We agree.

In fact, the State Comptroller blistered the city’s hind end two years ago in an audit that listed numerous fiscal management deficiencies. This newspaper has reported at length on both the fiscal deficiencies and the state audit. Hence our call last week for an elected controller.

The current dysfunctional relationship between the council and mayor in relation to the position of controller is well documented. Time and again the council and mayor perform a little playlet of good cop bad cop as they cynically reduce the controller position to a foil in their political games. As we wrote last week the moving of the controller to a position of election would give the position equal footing with the mayor and council.

We’re told that our common sense call for change has met with wide agreement among those in the know both in the city and at this end of the state. Additionally, the possibility of the controller spot going up for election has many politicos and would be politicos considering a run for the controller’s office…if the city charter is modified and the appointed position become one of election.

Frankly, we aren’t surprised by the attention the job has garnered since at approximately $http://southbuffalonews.com02,000 per year the Niagara Falls controller is paid more than the Buffalo city controller. That gives plenty of potential candidates one hundred and two thousand reasons to consider the race.

The Reporter is pleased to have done a public service by tossing this recommendation on the community’s proverbial table for consideration. After all, we’re not here to simply report the news, we’d like to think that occasionally we come up with a good suggestion.