Niagara Gazette — “When you look at our budget, there are other things that can be cut as opposed to the arts,” Walker said. “It’s not a real big deal, especially if we have the opportunity to now save $15,000 on that.”
In other matters, the council:
• Engaged in a lengthy discussion with Mayor Paul Dyster and City Controller Maria Brown about the city’s contingency plan for paying its bills should the casino cash fail to arrive following the ongoing arbitration process between the Seneca Nation of Indians and the state of New York. Several council members asked what, if any, options the administration had explored for dealing with costly debt service payments if the money did not come through as promised, including an $808,000, interest-only payment due in June on the public safety complex. Dyster said all indications from the state so far suggest the arbitration will be settled by mid-year and to the satisfaction of the state and, as a result, the city. Failing that, Dyster said the administration has discussed various scenarios for closing fund gaps, including revisiting last year’s offer from the New York Power Authority to provide $13.5 million in accelerated payments owed to the city under the relicensing agreement for the Niagara Power Project.
• Approved funding for a pair of new police initiatives aimed at curtailing crime in city neighborhoods, business districts and the downtown tourism district. The first initiative, the Safe Neighborhood Active Patrols, or SAFE, program, will add additional walking and bicycle patrols in certain neighborhoods to increase police visibility and presence. Targeted neighborhoods will be based on crime data, crime mapping and field intelligence. The program cost is not anticipated to exceed $53,825. The other program - a downtown crime-fighting initiative - aims to increase the police presence in the tourism district by adding more officers in electric vehicles, bicycles and on foot patrols. That program’s cost is not expected to exceed $26,913.