Niagara Gazette

April 3, 2013

Mayor says city holding steady with cash flow concerns

By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — City lawmakers once again pressed Mayor Paul Dyster on the city’s plan regarding recurring debt payments during this week’s city council meeting.

And Dyster had the response he’s had all along: The city is closely monitoring its cash situation and waiting for the end of the dispute between New York state and the Seneca Nation of Indians over the exclusivity clause in the 2002 gaming compact between the parties.

Dytser said he knows the public is tired of hearing the same talking points on the matter but he remains confident the city will see the more than $60 million that has been withheld from Niagara Falls since the dispute began almost four years ago.

“It remains the case that our hope would be that there would be a negotiated settlement prior to the conclusion of the process at midyear, by which arbitrators will make their decision,” Dyster said.

The process is not going any faster than has been anticipated, but also no slower, Dyster said.

“The timeline is the same as it was,” Dyster said. “It’s not slipping.”

Several council members and City Controller Maria Brown have called for a contingency plan to be set in place in case the dispute is not resolved or money has not been delivered by late summer when cash issues would arise because of larger bond debt repayments. No council members had questions for the mayor at Monday’s meeting.

Councilman Charles Walker said he still feels the city needs to put a contingency plan in place during a phone interview on Tuesday.

“The update didn’t have much substance to it at all,” he said.

While Walker is confident in Dyster’s assertion that the city will receive its money, he said he thinks the city needs to plan for all situations, including the continued absence of the casino revenues.

“There has to be some sort of alternative plan,” Walker said.

Walker added that the city needs to do more than monitor the cash flow situation and wait for the casino revenue dispute to end.

“We already know that we’re facing a deficit,” the councilman said. “We have to do more.”