Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 5, 2014

Casino cash fix, council makeover has Dyster optimistic about 2014

Casino cash fix, council makeover has administration optimistic

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Dyster and the city continue to face major financial challenges similar to those in other upstate cities that the mayor hopes to address this year.

Dyster, who used more than $4 million in reserve funds to plug a gap in the adopted budget for 2014, failed to gain the support of the council in his push for the city to participate in the state’s new financial advisory program called the Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments last fall.

Both Grandinetti and Walker, along with Choolokian and Fruscione, voted down a measure from the mayor asking for approval to participate in the program. Anderson was absent from that meeting.

Dyster said he plans to work with the council to convince them the city’s participation in the program will help in figuring out a long-term solution for closing the gap between spending and revenues.

“There are a huge number of positive things that are happening here, but if we’re unable to resolve the long-term structural financial situation it has the potential to undermine all of the other good things that are happening,” Dyster said.

Dyster said some of the positive things that happened in 2013 could have otherwise set up a disastrous 2014. Had the deal between the Senecas and the state fallen through or had the deal that will see the Hamister Group erect a five-story mixed-use building downtown unraveled the city would be much worse off, he said.

“This could have been a very bleak 2014,” he said.

But with the Hamister project expected to begin construction this fall, the state expected to award an incentive package to a developer for the remaining portion of the former Rainbow Centre mall building and the state’s Downtown Niagara Falls Development Challenge starting up — which will see the city and state put up $4 million each for the next five years to spur downtown attraction development — the city is on it’s way to building a critical mass downtown, Dyster said.

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