Niagara Gazette — Mayor Paul Dyster feels he may be the reason that three local community groups have had their funding cut or eliminated.
Standing in the auditorium of the 90-year-old former Niagara falls High School building, now the home of the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center — he was once the president of the organization’s board of directors and is still “proud” to offer financial support — Dyster said that he feels three council members are blocking funds to the NACC, the Niagara Beautification Commission and the Niagara Falls Block Club Council as an attack on him.
“I’m just getting concerned that what’s going on here is really political,” Dyster said. “I don’t know if it has anything to do with the NACC, the beautification commission or the block club council.”
The NACC, NBC and the block club council will receive either none of or lesser amounts of funding than what was outlined in the city’s adopted budget which was passed this fall. Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian, Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. and Councilman Sam Fruscione voted no to a resolution that would have allowed the administration to execute a funding agreement — a normally routine process — that would have paid the NACC the $30,000 that was set aside for the arts organization in the budget. Councilman Charles Walker and Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti voted yes to the measure.
All five members voted yes to funding agreements with NBC and the block club council after the council majority told the organizations that they would pass the agreements, but only with cuts to the funds promised in the budget. The block club council saw their funding fall from $10,000 to $2,500 while the beatification commission saw their funding fall from $5,000 to $2,500.
The council members who voted to defund the NACC and reduce funding for the other organizations pointed to “frivolous” spending practices, a tight budget and the length of time that they organizations have received funding from the city as reasons for their votes.