Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 9, 2012

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

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

Fruscione said that the city had used the state money to help the city provide services prior to the creation of USA Niagara and  in this budget year the best use of the aid is to help ensure that services are maintained without tax increases.

Fruscione said that Dyster's proposed 8 percent property tax hike reminds him of the hefty tax levees that the city passed in the early 2000s.

"I don't want to go back to those big tax increases," Fruscione said. "People will leave."

Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti said that while she agrees with her fellow lawmakers she feels the accomplishments of USA Niagara and the value the organization has created downtown — specifically the conference center and the new Niagara Falls Culinary Institute — should not be overlooked.

"If you look at downtown Niagara Falls you would not have had anything happen without USA Niagara," Grandinetti said.

Since being created in 2001 USA Niagara has used $4 million in city tax payer's money to leverage $84 million in state and federal funds for 36 projects, according to documents provided by the state agency.

State officials say the agency has also leveraged another $80 million from private investors.

Those figures do not include the $31 million in state aid that has passed through the city in that time, which state officials say doesn't go directly into project costs.

Grandinetti has proposed an amendment to the resolution stating the council's intention not to end the city's relationship USA Niagara. She feels that it should include language that reflects the council's intention to return to the agreement between the two entities in the 2014 budget.

"I understand the reasoning behind what's happening right now," Grandinetti said. "But, we need to find a way to get back to giving that money to USA Niagara."

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