Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 26, 2012

Veto vote delayed

Niagara Gazette —

City lawmakers on Monday tabled Mayor Paul Dyster's veto of a resolution that would allow the city to charge the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York state fees for various services.

Dyster vetoed a resolution approved in a 4 to 1 vote by council council members last month that amended an ordinance allowing the city to charge the Senecas and the state for road maintenance, emergency response and other services at the Seneca Niagara Casino and state park land in Niagara Falls.

Approval from four of the five city council members is needed to override a mayoral veto. 

Following Monday's council meeting, Councilman Glenn Choolokian, who co-authored the resolution with Council Chairman Sam Fruscione, said the vote on a potential veto override was delayed to allow for additional consultation with city attorneys. 

"We're looking to get more legal advice from our lawyer," Choolokian said.

Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson declined comment on the legality of the ordinance amendment on Monday. 

In a letter attached to the veto delivered to the city clerk's office last week, Dyster called the measure's enforceability "highly questionable." 

On Monday, Dyster stood by his assessment. 

"I can't sign into law things that I think are illegal," Dyster said. "I put my hand on the Bible. I took an oath. I take that stuff seriously."

Choolokian has said that part of the purpose of the resolution was to send a message to both the Senecas and the state that the city would stand up for itself after being left in a terrible financial situation due to the suspension of gaming revenue payments. 

Choolokian said he plans to meet with state Assemblyman John Cerretto, R-Lewiston, to discuss agreements between communities in Niagara County and Indian nations where the nations pay for fire protection from volunteer fire companies on reservations. 

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