Niagara Gazette

January 6, 2014

City council to discuss restoration of funds for cultural and community groups

By Mark Scheer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A group of Niagara Falls cultural and community groups targeted by budget cuts last year are now in line to have their city accounts restored. 

Mayor Paul Dyster’s administration will ask members of the city council today to authorize new funding agreements for five community organizations, including the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, the Niagara Falls Beautification Commission, the Niagara Military Affairs Council, the Niagara Falls Block Club Council and the Niagara Community Action Program. 

Funds for the groups included in the proposed agreements are as follows: NACC, $30,000; NIACAP, $27,500; Nimac, $2,500; NBC, $10,000; block club council, $10,000.

The NACC, the NBC and the block club council were among a group of community organizations that saw their city funds eliminated last February as part of cost-cutting moves supported by council members Glenn Choolokian and Robert Anderson Jr. and former lawmaker Sam Fruscione. 

All three representatives questioned the use of municipal funds for the private organizations, arguing the city, which last year had not yet received its casino cash, could no longer afford such subsidies. 

The administration’s request follows a change in the makeup of the city council following the fall elections. Fruscione has been replaced by newly elected lawmaker Andrew Touma, who ran alongside Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti and new council Chairman Charles Walker, both of whom supported continued funding for cultural groups last year. 

Dyster said organizations like the NACC and the block club council provide valuable programs and services to the community and he believes they are worthy of continued financial support from the city itself. 

“I think symbolically it’s important because it establishes that the city council is willing to work with these community groups to move this city forward,” Dyster said.

Walker, the council’s newly elected chairman, said he expects additional discussion to take place before council members vote on the proposed agreements, including the requested funds for the block club council. 

In the past, he said, he has supported funding for cultural and community organizations because he believes they have provided the city with a good return on its investment over the years. 

“I think for the amount of money we give them they do good work,” Walker said.