Niagara Gazette

October 29, 2012

Council to hear mayor's 2013 proposal on Thursday

By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Mayor Paul Dyster will present his proposed 2013 budget to city lawmakers on Thursday.

Dyster, who was supposed to present the budget on Oct. 1, announced Monday his plans to release the details of his spending proposal at 4 p.m. Thursday inside city council chambers at City Hall, 745 Main St. 

Dyster said he needed extra time to look for ways to reduce cuts in services, maintain property tax rates and save city jobs under what he has described as a "disaster budget."

"We've done the best job that we can under some very difficult circumstances," Dyster said.

The budget is the first to be presented late in Niagara Falls in 11 years. 

This year's budget process has been particularly difficult because the city, at the recommendation of the New York State Comptroller's Office, will not be counting anticipated casino revenue, reducing the city's receivables line by about $10 million, according to the Dyster administration. 

The arbitration between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York State in their dispute over their 2002 gaming compact — and the source of the city's casino revenues - is not expected to produce an outcome for at least a few months, sources close to the situation have told the Gazette.

Dyster said with the lack of anticipated casino funds in the budget every department will feel the squeeze.

"I don't think there's anybody that's going to be particularly happy, but that's sometimes an indication of a balanced treatment," Dyster said.

Council Chairman Sam Fruscione said city lawmakers will have 30 days to review the budget after it is presented, the same amount of time they would have had if Dyster had presented his spending plan on time.

"We have to return the budget to the mayor by Dec. 1," Fruscione said.

In other matters, the council:

• Passed a resolution allowing the city to collect fees from both the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York state parks for emergency and maintenance services. Fruscione and fellow council members Glenn Choolokian, Charles Walker and Robert Anderson Jr. voted in favor of advancing the fee-collection system, while Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti voted against.  

• Voted unanimously to approve a resolution calling on the state Assembly and Senate strengthen laws protecting children from sex offenders.

• Approved a measure to support laws stuck in the state Assembly and Senate that would allow direct payments to host communities in the gaming compact between the Senecas and the state. Grandinetti voted against the measure. Anderson abstained. 

With Dyster, Paul mug Paul Dyster Ready with budget