Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams’ response to Council Member Nowakowski’s demand for a City-wide audit of employees on paid leave

Date: September 22, 2023

Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams’ response to Council Member Nowakowski’s demand for a City-wide audit of employees on paid leave

Buffalo, NY – On September 14th, I was notified of an article written by Mr. Geoff Kelly, Investigative Post, entitled, “City Hall Clerk Paid Not to Work.” As a result of comments made by Council Member Nowakowski, Fillmore District, in the article. I attempted to contact him via his cell phone to further discuss his concerns. A second unsuccessful attempt to reach him was made on September 19th, whereby I left a message with his staff in an effort to work with him to discuss all his concerns regarding the aforementioned City Employee matter. As has always been the case, I continue to remain transparent and will work with all Council Members and interested parties relating to City finances.

In addition, on September 19th, I was contacted by Mr. Geoff Kelly, Investigative Post, and notified of a Resolution (23-1589 – CC – Nowakowski – Audit of City Employees on Paid Administrative Leave – Late File) that was sponsored by Council Members Nowakowski and Rivera, and an Investigative Post news article (23-1587 – CC – Nowakowski – Investigative Post – City Hall Clerk Paid Not to Work), which was discussed at the recent Common Council Session. Both submissions referenced an allegation of impropriety by a City Employee assigned to the Buffalo Fire Department. It is my understanding that this matter was discovered and reported by the Department of Audit and Control personnel in February 2016, yet it was not fully addressed by the former Comptroller and the Administration.

As the Comptroller, rest assured that our Department of Audit and Control takes all accusations of misconduct seriously and is committed to a factual based process of resolution. Therefore, effective September 15th, 2023, I initiated a City-wide investigation of all employees that are currently on Leave of Absence with Pay. According to our records since July 1st, 2023, there were twelve out of approximately 3,000 employees in the Leave of Absence with Pay category. An Investigation will provide the required information in an expeditious manner, unlike an Audit which can take several months to complete. The purpose of the investigation will be to determine what went wrong and who should be held responsible to account for the current situation to include all involved City Employees as well as ensuring that no such system failures will occur in the future. The confidential Financial Protection Hotline continues to be available to everyone that would like to anonymously report financial misconduct at 716-851-8779.

I have requested meetings with the Administration, Corporation Counsel, and any other staff deemed necessary

for discovery and resolution of this matter. In addition, the City Auditor, Kevin Kaufman, will be present at the upcoming Civil Service Committee Meeting to address all Council Members’ concerns regarding the aforementioned matter. Based upon the investigative findings resulting from my due diligence an audit will be conducted, if applicable.

As always, I remain committed to collaborating with the Mayoral Administration, Buffalo Common Council Members, the members of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority, and all interested citizens and taxpayers to assist with formulating solutions to address the City’s financial matters.


Barbara Miller-Williams

City Comptroller