Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 14, 2013

End of dispute a relief to NTCC, Memorial and school district too

Niagara Gazette — It’s a load off everyone’s shoulders, not just those at Niagara Falls City Hall.

Thursday’s announced deal between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York state, ending a three-year standoff over casino revenues, wasn’t just about bringing millions of dollars to the City of Niagara Falls. The city’s school district, its hospital and its chief tourism promotions organization each get a piece of the pie as well.

They’ve been “getting by” without the annual payments they’d been promised. But that’s all done now, the waiting game is over.

“It was like Christmas in June,” said Joseph Ruffolo, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center’s president and CEO, said about hearing of the deal. 

The city’s hospital receives a portion of the city’s casino revenues each year as part of the original deal, used for capital improvements throughout its buildings.

Despite not seeing money for three years, the hospital was able to secure funding for its new dialysis center, which creates about 30 new permanent jobs in the city.

To Ruffolo, the casino money is about creating and maintaining the hospital’s workforce, not about politics.

“It’s all about creating jobs,” he said. “As a major employer in the area, it’s a balancing act between improving community health status and doing it in a way that’s creating new jobs in an economically depressed area. (The money) gives us a chance to replenish our (cash) reserves so we can put that money towards future economic development projects.”

Like the hospital, the city’s school district had been receiving money from the state as part of the original compact, signed in 2001. Like the hospital, the money was given to the schools for the sake of improving buildings and keeping the costs of education as low as possible.

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Do you think cigarette sales to non-Native American customers should be taxed on reservations?

Yes. Items should be taxed like they are everywhere else.
No, the indian reservations are sovereign land and they are selling them on their land.
Not up to me. Native Americans decide the rules on their land.
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