Niagara Gazette

Local News

October 28, 2012

ZOOM team, Falls cleanup efforts cut by city council for $150K Memorial entranceway project

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

• A $50,000 reduction in funding to the Niagara Falls Public Library for a floor reconstruction project. That project would go unfunded in the amended budget.

• A $50,000 reduction in funding for commercial facade rehabilitation program with matching funds from the state. The funding was set at $100,000 in the original budget.

Grandinetti, who said she was not invited to participate in the forming of the amended budget, questioned several of the revisions, including the move to reduce funding for the library — which is heavily used by the community — to fund an entranceway project for the hospital, which has received $900,000 in support from the city since 2009.

She also believes her council colleagues waited too long without ever involving themselves in the budget process to make such “drastic, last-minute” changes behind closed doors.

“Some of the decisions that are being made are ridiculous,” Grandinetti said.

The city’s community development department oversees the spending of federal funds earmarked for Niagara Falls each year. As part of the department’s annual budget process, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires the budget to be the subject of a series of public meetings, a public comment period and a public hearing before its approval.

Piccirillo said his original spending proposal was developed through public meetings and was based, in part, on direct input from residents, including members of area block clubs. He said council members who revised his budget never discussed the changes with him before returning their amended version.

“I literally thought that there was going to be no changes until Oct. 20,” Piccirillo said.

Councilman Charles Walker, who is employed by the hospital and serves as the liaison between Community Development and the council on budget matters, said he didn’t see his involvement in the process as a problem given that the $150,000 is a small portion of the $2.2 million budget.

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