Niagara Gazette — Mayor Paul Dyster wants Niagara Falls to be the first city in line to participate in a state program aimed at helping upstate cities meet short-term financial goals and deal with long-term structural budget issues.
Dyster sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office asking that the city be one the first participants in the state’s Financial Assistance Restructuring Program, which Cuomo outlined during his State of the State address in January.
“These are trying financial times for all levels of government and the city of Niagara Falls is facing serious financial challenges,” Dyster said in the letter. “I believe that continuing to work with your administration, the New York State Comptroller’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office, will yield creative short- and long-term strategies to deal with our most pressing budgetary concerns.”
During the annual address, Cuomo described the program as a joint task force with representatives from the Comptroller’s Office, the Attorney General, the Division of Budget and private sector consultants who will offer restructuring advice to state municipalities.
Dyster said the state-level wisdom can help the city identify initiatives and funding opportunities it might not otherwise find.
“You’ve got a bunch of expertise that’s available for nothing,” Dyster said. “You always want to avail yourself of that sort of advice.”
Dyster likened the task force’s third party perspective to a second opinion from a doctor.
“That makes it clear that this is analysis coming from an objective perspective, rather than being driven by local politics or personalities,” he added.
Requests for more information on the program and possible timelines for implementation of the program made by the Gazette to the governor’s office were not returned by the time the paper went to press.
Members of the city council and City Controller Maria Brown have raised concerns in recent weeks over looming financial issues tied to $7 million in anticipated casino revenues included in the 2013 budget.