Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 28, 2013

Council majority cutting out meals -- and watching every cent


Niagara Gazette — "Does council have the power to do the things they say they are going to do in the resolution? I suspect that they don't and I am researching that," Dyster said. 

When asked for his opinion, Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson referred all questions about the resolution to Choolokian. 

The council chairman said the measure in question is not unlike spending freeze resolutions adopted in previous years, including last year. He said the intent is for the council to work with the mayor and the controller's office on a monthly basis to make sure revenues are being handled appropriately in light of the current budget crunch. 

"I'm hoping that his is a learning lesson for everybody between the administration and the council," Choolokian said. 

Dyster noted that the while the resolution speaks to a potential structural deficit due to the possibility of casino money and other revenues not materializing as expected in 2013, the council — members of the majority included — voted last year to adopt the spending plan that is currently in place. 

"This resolution, it seems to me, is more political than it is practical," Dyster said.

Dyster said his administration has continued to monitor spending closely during the first part of 2013, but maintains that some of the items appearing on the council's "non-essential" list are, in some cases, necessary. He questioned the potential effectiveness of the council's resolution, saying the cost of the items in question combined will not come close to addressing the multi-million dollar budget gap discussed in the council's resolution. 

"There is simply not enough dollars in all of those things to correct the issue cited as the reason for doing this," Dyster said. 

The council has changed the schedule for Monday's meeting. Lawmakers will meet at 4 p.m. to review the agenda. The evening session, traditionally scheduled for 7 p.m., has been changed to 4:30 p.m. to accommodate a "personal" matter involving one of the council members. Both meetings will take place inside council chambers at city hall, 745 Main St. 

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