Niagara Gazette — EDITOR'S NOTE: City Editor Mark Scheer and reporters Justin Sondel and Timothy Chipp contributed to this report.
In unveiling what he described as a "disaster budget" for the city of Niagara Falls on Thursday, Mayor Paul Dyster made it clear that an ongoing dispute over gaming revenue between the Seneca Nation of Indians and the state of New York was largely to blame.
On Tuesday, voters in and around Niagara Falls will go to the polls to decide who will represent them in the state legislature starting next year.
What would those candidates do to ensure that the city received the casino cash it has been promised and how would they approach negotiations on any new agreements to avoid similar stalemates in the future?
State Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston, who currently represents the Assembly's 138th District but would, if re-elected, represent the newly redistricted 145th District, said negotiations over money and other casino-related issues are handled by the governor's office and the Seneca Nation under the terms of the original gaming agreement. He suggested the issues between the two sides were there already when he took office in 2011, but that he has done what he can as a legislator to improve the situation for Niagara Falls. Ceretto said he's also proposed measures requiring the state to turn over a larger share of its portion of the gaming revenue - 50 percent as opposed to the 25 percent the city currently receives - under any future gaming agreement.
He also took part in a local task force organized by City Council Chairman Sam Fruscione that sought to obtain a "bridge loan" from the state to cover the city's needs while the arbitration process between the state and Senecas continues. Ceretto said Cuomo's staffers listened, but would not commit.