City Council to Enact Spending Freeze in Niagara Falls [VIDEO]
The Niagara Falls City Council is expected to approve a spending freeze Monday afternoon.
Niagara Falls has borrowed an estimated $18 million from itself every year for the past three years when the Seneca Nation stopped sharing its casino revenue with the state of New York.
"We're reaching the point, I think, now where we have to be very careful about every dollar that goes out the door," Mayor Paul Dyster cautions.
In lieu of the casino revenue, Niagara Falls has been borrowing from its special projects fund.
"When something that we wanted to fund with the casino revenues came due, we would pay out a special projects fund balance with the understanding that when the casino funds are delivered, we'll make the special projects fund balance whole," Dyster says.
Three years later, the City Controller is warning the fund is running low.
If the City Council enacts an immediate spending freeze on Monday, it threatens to reverse all the economic momentum the city has been building.
"We used casino revenues, for example, to help land the [NCCC] Culinary Institute in downtown Niagara Falls; $2.5 million in casino revenues in that project. Another example of leveraging private investment would be Four Points Sheraton Hotel project. That was... leveraged with about $650,000 in casino revenues," Dyster notes.
Dyster tells WIVB, he's had conversations with Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy and Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter. Based on those talks, he is hopeful that even if it takes another year for them to settle their dispute in arbitration, perhaps the money can start being released sooner.