Sadly, the Buffalo Downtown Association announced earlier this week that it would be ceasing operations. The stated reason: A lack of sufficient funding to continue to pay the bills – including salaries, rent and utilities.
In the past two years, the BDA has done a great many things to promote downtown Buffalo and enhance the experience of being downtown. We appreciate their efforts.
That said, in the fall of 2017, city and county leaders asked the BDA board to enter discussions with the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce and JOCO First to determine whether there might be a way to combine forces, reduce overhead and administrative costs and still accomplish the same good work.
Officials were crystal clear on this point: As public funds declined, hard decisions would need to be made about how to best utilize those limited funds.
Unfortunately, no action was taken and that’s where the discussion stopped.
Now it seems that a lack of funds from local governments has determined the future of the BDA for the organization.
We are confident that the Chamber or other organizations will be able to pick up the slack and continue the programs that the BDA has initiated. The Chamber has already assumed one of the BDA’s major projects – the placement and care of flowers downtown.
Nevertheless, the shuttering of the BDA should serve as a cautionary tale to other publicly funded organizations in the community. Officials are serious when they say that dollars are declining and tough decisions will be made, including eliminating programs, if necessary.
A bunker mentality is not the way to proceed. Rather, agencies and organizations should be actively pursuing ways to cross program, utilize multiple-use spaces, reduce overhead (like salaries, rent and utilities) and generally do more with less. We are heartened by the recent efforts of the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Horns and the Johnson County YMCA to offer some children’s programs collaboratively. Similarly, the Buffalo Senior Center and the YMCA have begun work on improving seniors’ access to programs at the YMCA.
And it is not solely non-profits that must face this reality of diminished government coffers. Johnson County Healthcare Center has been presented with an opportunity to potentially collaborate with the Johnson County Rural Health District to provide ambulance service. Both organizations have operated in the red for the past several years, and neither can continue to do so. With valuations continuing to decline, both boards must consider all options. We hope the hospital board will seriously investigate whether there are financial benefits in collaborating to provide quality ambulance service. It could prove to be a financial boon to both organizations. The time to do so is now. This opportunity may never present itself again.