By Justin Sondel
Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined Seneca President Barry Snyder Sr. and Mayor Paul Dyster at the Seneca Niagara Gaming Complex to announce the delivery of funds from the negotiated settlement between the parties.
Cuomo visited Niagara Falls Wednesday to accept payment from the Seneca Nation of Indians and give the city its cut of money withheld during the gaming compact dispute between the state and Senecas. The Senecas stopped making payments to the state in 2009 because, they argued, the state had violated the exclusivity clause in the compact by placing gaming devices in state-run race tracks within the exclusivity zone and marketing those race tracks as casinos.
Cuomo said the state and Senecas had "wasted four years" arguing, but could now continue to build a fruitful relationship going forward.
"I think it's a new day in Niagara Falls," Cuomo said. "I think it's been a new day for Western New York and I think today is just emblematic of it."
Cuomo said that Niagara Falls leadership "paid the price" during the disagreement despite its lack of involvement in the events that lead to the dispute.
Dyster and the City Council had "risen to the occasion" when faced with budget issues related to the stoppage of casino revenue payments, Cuomo said.
"Somehow they made ends meet," Cuomo said. "They managed to go on and run the city although it was extraordinarily difficult."
Cuomo joined Snyder, Dyster and other elected officials in Niagara Falls on June 15 to announce that the state and the Senecas had reached an agreement. The state agreed to forfeit $209 million of the $408 million it was owed, but paid the host communities of Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca the full amounts that had been withheld.
Niagara Falls received $89 million that was withheld during the dispute.