Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 9, 2012

City lawmakers say cutting funds to USA Niagara not a sign of discontent

Niagara Gazette —

The relationship between the city of Niagara Falls and USA Niagara Development Corp., if only for a while, is coming to an end.

The city council passed an amendment to Mayor Paul Dyster's proposed budget that eliminates the $3.1 million transfer of state aid from the city to the state's development arm here in the Falls at the last city council meeting and has included a resolution in the agenda for today's meeting stating the council's intention not to renew the city's agreement with the agency next year, which will likely pass.

All of the council members said that their intention to end the relationship with USA Niagara is not in response to the work that the agency has done in the city's downtown core, but a reaction to the difficult budget situation — largely a result of the state's ongoing dispute with the Seneca Nation of Indians — which has forced the council members to make some very difficult decisions.

"The ball is in the court of New York state," Council Chairman Sam Fruscione said. "At this point in time we have no money to help out anybody."

Fruscione, and all of his colleagues on the council, say that if the city's financial situation improves — either from a favorable resolution for the city in the arbitration between the state and the Senecas or some other windfall — the council would revisit the idea of a financial agreement.

"This isn't a forever thing," Fruscione said.

The money — part of the $17 million in state Aid and Incentives for Municipalities funding that the city will get this year — is used to cover operating costs at the Convention and Events Center Niagara Falls, to provide programming on Old Falls Street and to provide support for the projects that the agency pursues. The city has been giving the agency the same amount since it was created in 2001.

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