Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 20, 2013

Community again comes out to dress down council majority on NACC funding cut

Community again comes out to dress down council majority for funding cut decision

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

As was the case with a few other speakers, Williams expressed frustration about the move given the council’s continued use of taxpayer money to buy meals in between their afternoon agenda review sessions and evening meetings. 

An analysis of expenditures by council members by the Gazette shows that four city lawmakers as well as at least two city attorneys continued to eat out on the taxpayers’ dime during last year’s department-wide freeze on discretionary spending. Records show the subsidized dinners — described by some of the city lawmakers who regularly attend them as a council “tradition” — have continued through the first part of 2013. 

“You cut the items that effect the growth of the city, but kept your unnecessary personal perks,” Williams said. “I would like to remind you that, yes, you do make the rules. That is your job. And the rules need to be changed. That too is your job.”

Block club members, including long-time leaders Roger Spurback and Norma Higgs, came out to voice their displeasure with the council’s moves as well. 

Higgs called on the council majority to begin to share in the community’s “sacrifice” by eliminating their “dining privileges” and reverse any previous resolutions that allow council members and other part-time city officials to receive money for opting out of the city’s medical insurance plan. Having obtained a copy of the most recent dinner bill of $174, Higgs suggested lawmakers were eating more than just “sandwiches,” a reference to a statement Choolokian made recently when asked about the council’s dinner expenses. 

“How about appetizers, soup, salad, shrimp and veal parm?” she said. “I was able to do a little research and found that to be a strange definition of a sandwich.”

Jonathan Rogers, a Niagara Street resident who returned to the podium where he stood two weeks earlier to again heap praise upon the NACC, conceded that no matter what he said, members of the council majority were not going to change their minds about funding for the facility. 

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