Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 4, 2013

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

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Fruscione said the council needs to make sure the organizations aren’t improperly spending money because the city could always be audited by the state Comptroller’s Office.

“We all have to be accountable,” he said. “Plus, the budget is going to be worse next year. So everybody’s got to take a little hit.”

But not everyone is taking a hit.

The council passed the appropriations agreement with Niagara Community Action Program Inc., an organization in which Fruscione serves as an active board member. That measure was approved in a 4-0 vote, with Fruscione abstaining. The organization will receive the full $27,500 it was earmarked in the adopted 2013 budget.

The council also voted to pass appropriations agreements for the Niagara Military Affairs Council for $2,500 and OSC-TV 21 — the student-run television network that records council meetings — for $10,000. Neither organization had its funding cut.

Fruscione and Grandinetti are both employees of the school district. Fruscione abstained in the vote to pass the school program’s funding. Grandinetti voted yes on the resolution.

When asked, Fruscione said he could not supply the Gazette with the self-audits from either NIACAP or OSC-TV 21 because he never requested them from the organizations because it would be a conflict of interest.

“I can’t audit myself,” he said.

But the letter sent to the three organizations that stand to have their funding cut or eliminated reads, “We are asking all entities to submit a detailed list of the expenditures of these monies for the years 2009, 2010, and 2011.

All five members voted to eliminate the block club funding during the budget amendment process but a veto by Mayor Paul Dyster to that resolution was sustained with votes from Walker and Grandinetti.

Dyster said he was puzzled by the council’s blocking of the appropriations agreements.

The council had the documents submitted since last April, but did not address the amounts to be given to the organizations during the budget process last fall, he noted.

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