Niagara Gazette — Councilman Sam Fruscione is questioning whether the use of Niagara Arts and Cultural Center funds to put on a fundraiser started by Mayor Paul Dyster and his wife, Rebecca, is improper.
The NACC has received $30,000 in bed tax funds for 11 years. Over the past three years, the center has spent almost $12,000 putting on the Art of Beer, an event the Dysters helped start as a fundraiser for the arts center in 2007, according to documents supplied to the councilman by the center.
Fruscione said use of bed tax funds to throw an event — which he characterized as “a boozy party” — created by the mayor is “very unethical.”
“If you’re the mayor and connected to an event like that you have to follow procedure,” Fruscione said.
Fruscione said Dyster knowingly avoided the proper channels for securing funding for his event all while pretending to be “the golden boy of Niagara Falls.”
“That’s definitely a highly questionable practice right there,” Fruscione said.
Fruscione said he and other taxpayers should not be “paying for beer” for the festival.
“I don’t think $4,500 of taxpayer money should be going to a beer festival,” he reiterated.
But, the money has never paid for beer and the organization has never spent more than $4,000 to host it.
Participating microbreweries donate beer in exchange for the publicity they get from being at the event. The money that the organization invests in the event goes toward things like collectors glasses given to patrons as part of the cost of admission, a license for the event from the New York State Liquor Authority, city vendor’s licenses and ice.
Paul Dyster was on the board of both the NACC and the Art of Beer before running for mayor. He left those posts before announcing his bid for office.
Dyster also rescinded his partnership in the business that Rebecca now runs by herself, Niagara Traditions Homebrew supply.