Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 19, 2013

Dyster details casino cash plan

Niagara Gazette — Mayor Paul Dyster drew a rough sketch of plans for the $89 million in withheld casino revenues that will soon hit city accounts during a press conference Tuesday at City Hall. Dyster said the delivery of the funds will alleviate some of the financial stress caused by a looming cash crunch that would have come to a head this fall had the casino cash dispute not ended last week. He also stressed that city officials will need to continue to work together to deal with ongoing structural deficits in the budget in the weeks and months ahead.

“This is a great victory for the city of Niagara Falls, but now is the time for work, not celebration,” Dyster said.

Dyster said the first steps will involve receiving the funds and then distributing the money to various accounts and entities that were either borrowed from or not paid during the dispute.

Specifically, Dyster said the city will:

• Repay $22.7 million borrowed from the general fund.

• Release $23.5 million to other entities, including the school district and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, which are owed as part of the compact.

• Repay $15.7 million borrowed from the tribal revenue and tourism funds.

Dyster disputed claims made in various media reports by city officials he did not identify by name that the city owed vendors and has fallen behind on payments because of the dispute.

“We were very conservative with casino funding in the budget before the dispute started,” Dyster said. “We built a reserve. When the casino funds stopped coming, we tapped into that reserve.”

Dyster held up a cash flow analysis spreadsheet dated May 29 from City Controller Maria Brown’s office that showed the city would have carried on without needing to address cash flow issues into October had the dispute continued.

The looming cash issues were mostly related to the $7 million counted in this year’s budget as anticipated casino revenues set to repay bond debt tied to the Public Safety Complex on Main Street. Those funds will now be in place by the time the bond debt payments are due, Dyster said.

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