Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 15, 2013

'Negative outlook' for Falls finances from bond agency

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — The agency’s “negative outlook” means there is “continued downward pressure” which could lead to another downgrade in the next year or two, David Jacobson, a spokesperson for Moody’s, said in an email.

In March, the city was also put “on watch” for a downgrade from Standard & Poor’s Rating Services, which currently gives the city a bond rating of triple-B-plus.

Mayor Paul Dyster continues to maintain that he is confident the city will get its money — either through an ongoing arbitration process or a negotiated settlement between the state and the Senecas — before cash flow issues come to a head.

He disagreed with Moody’s assertion that there is no clear time frame for a resolution to the dispute.

“There is a clear time frame for the conclusion of arbitration,” Dyster said, referring to the mid-year end date for arbitration that has been repeated by state officials. “That makes for a clear time frame for a negotiated settlement.”

In addition, Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the Senecas an ultimatum last week, saying that the Indian tribe needs to come to the table to negotiate a deal with the state before the legislature recesses in late June. Otherwise, Cuomo said he would push state lawmakers to open up Western New York as a site for a non-Indian casino as part of his gaming expansion plan.

Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian said he was not surprised by the bond rating downgrade.

“We’re in a bad spot,” Choolokian said. “The city didn’t do anything to the state or the Seneca Nation.”

City lawmakers have for months been asking Dyster join them in formulating a contingency plan for any delay or lack of deliverance of the anticipated casino revenue.

Choolokian said Dyster’s administration has not reached out to his office to set up a contingency plan since the matter was discussed in February.

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