Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 9, 2012

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


Niagara Gazette —

Dyster has put forth a veto to the amendment that would eliminate the funding for USA Niagara. He said that he knows that the council has the votes to overturn the veto, but he feels that he needs to make a symbolic gesture in order to maintain the city's relationship with USA Niagara and the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo included tourism in Niagara Falls as a highlighted priority for his "Buffalo Billion" plan, which he outlined during a visit to the region on Tuesday.

"They are the conduit for us to access funds from the Buffalo billion," he said.

Dyster said that he, too, feels the council should be clear in their intentions to return to the agreement with USA Niagara. The state is likely to cut aid to the city by the $3.1 million next year and give it directly to USA Niagara if they don't feel as though the council is willing to return to the agreement.

"If attention is drawn to the raiding of these funds they are not going to be left in that budget line next year," Dyster said.

But Fruscione was not willing to put a firm commitment in place for when the city would be in a place where it could return to the agreement, owing mostly to the uncertainty surrounding the arbitration between the state and Senecas, he said.

If supplying USA Niagara with the city's state aid leads to raising tax rates then any downtown development efforts would be pointless as residents would leave and private investors would shy away from the city, Fruscione said.

"What are you going to do?," Fruscione said. "Have one nice section of the city and the rest of it blown out?"

Fruscione said he would support a return to the agreement when the city can do so without large tax increases.

"We will balance the budget," Fruscione said. "And then we will see what happens."

INSIDE Councilman sounds off on USA Niagara's efforts in city. OPINION, 6A

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