City lawmakers on Monday agreed to restore funding for several area cultural and community organizations, including the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center which lost $30,000 in bed tax revenue last year as a result of council belt-tightening efforts.
With little discussion and no disagreement, all five lawmakers voted Monday evening to allow Mayor Paul Dyster's administration to enter into funding agreements with the NACC and other local non-profit organizations in 2014. The only non-yes vote came from newly elected Chairman Charles Walker who abstained on the vote for a proposed $27,500 funding agreement with the Niagara Community Action Program, Inc., a group that he had recently joined as a board member.
As a result of Monday's vote, the NACC will receive $30,000 in bed tax revenue this year. In addition, the city will provide $2,500 to the Niagara Military Affairs Council, $10,000 in tourism fund balance to the Niagara Beautification Commission and another $10,000 to the Niagara Falls Block Club Council.
Walker said he believes all of the organizations in question add to the quality of life in Niagara Falls either by providing cultural and educational offerings such as those found at the NACC or assisting the city in cleanup efforts as is the case with the NBC and the block club council.
"I think it's important that the city invest in itself," Walker said.
Council members Glenn Choolokian and Robert Anderson Jr., two of three lawmakers who supported cuts to the NACC and other non-profits last year, voted in favor of all five funding deals.
Anderson indicated that while he may have voted to trim spending for the groups under more trying financial circumstances a year ago, he never stopped supporting the groups themselves.
"I support every one of them physically," Anderson said.
After the meeting, Choolokian also said he took the action he did last year in large part due to the pressing financial concerns that were facing the city at the time. When the cuts to the nonprofits were made, Choolokian noted that the city was still without its casino cash and facing significant budgetary challenges.