Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 4, 2013

Elimination of funds for block clubs, beautification group defended by council majority

Niagara Gazette — Three members of the city council want to cut or eliminate funding for some community groups that have received financial support from the municipality for several years.

During a recent meeting, the council voted down resolutions put forth by Mayor Paul Dyster to pass appropriations agreements with the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center and the Niagara Falls Block Club Council. The requests were both rejected in a 3-2 vote with Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian and fellow members Robert Anderson Jr. and Sam Fruscione voting against and council members Charles Walker and Kristen Grandinetti voting in favor.

All five members voted to table a similar agreement with the Niagara Falls Beautification Commission.

All of the funding was outlined in the 2013 municipal spending plan approved by the city council in November. At that time, council members did not amend funding lines for the organizations in question despite having internal audit reports detailing the groups’ spending from 2009 to 2011. The reports were delivered to the council following an April 2012 request by Fruscione.

The NACC and NBC funding lines come from city bed tax revenues while the block club council funding comes from property tax revenues.

Fruscione said the council majority wants to rethink how much money the city gives to each organization. After reviewing the audits, he said he found many expenses in the reports that he views as “frivolous.”

For example, he said in 2011 the block club council spent $100 on a magician for a Halloween party, the beautification commission spent more than $850 for telephone line and Internet and the NACC spent $20,416 on advertising.

The money that the block club council gets is supposed to be used for crime prevention efforts only, Fruscione said.

“We want to make sure that moving forward it’s used strictly for improving the quality of life in Niagara Falls,” he said.

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