Niagara Gazette

October 8, 2012

Latest grants leave county little casino cash

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The Niagara County Legislature recently approved spending $18,000 from an old casino cash fund to support improvement projects around the county.

By unanimous vote on Tuesday, lawmakers OK’d casino grants for:

• LaSalle Business & Professional Association, Niagara Falls, $3,000 for its sidewalk and storefront promotion program.

• Lockport Winter Wonderland, $3,000 toward expenses associated with setting up a month-long holiday promenade at the east end of Market Street.

• North Tonawanda History Museum, $2,000 for operations and $1,000 for the annual Winter Walk through the city’s central business district.

• A Niagara-Orleans counties Rural Broadband Inclusive Internet initiative, $2,500 for a study of broadband service gaps and opportunities.

• The Twin Cities Community Outreach Roof Fund, $2,000 for building repairs.

With the awards, the balance of the casino cash fund is about $20,000, according to Legislature Chairman William Ross, C-Wheatfield. The fund consists of a cut of Seneca Niagara Casino profits that was given to the county, by state law, until 2009.

In other business this week, the Legislature OK’d spending $20,000 on redesign of the county website, A website update committee, consisting of Public Information Officer Christian Peck, Director of Information Technology Larry Helwig and Legislature Clerk Mary Jo Tamburlin, will oversee selection of a third-party design vendor.

Redesign is driven partly by a February 2012 amendment to state Open Meeting Law requiring municipal agency records, proposed legislative resolutions, laws, rules, regulations, policies and amendments be posted on the municipality’s website ahead of meetings. The county’s current web page design “is several years old and no longer optimally user-friendly, particularly in light of the revisions to (state law),” the authorizing resolution says.

Also, lawmakers approved a resolution calling on the federal government to commission maintenance dredging of the Wilson and Olcott harbors, which are Federal Harbors of Refuge. Sponsor legislator David Godfrey, R-Wilson, notes the Wilson boating season has been reduced to 4 months from 6 months due to low water conditions, and that in turn brings fewer visitors and less boating-related retail business to the area. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommends dredging harbors every three to five years, but it’s been 15 years since local federal harbors were dredged.

Also, lawmakers approved reappointment of Mary Ann Casamento of Niagara Falls as the county’s Republican election commissioner, for a two-year term. Casamento was recommended by the Niagara County GOP committee at its recent reorganization meeting.