Niagara Gazette — A trio of city lawmakers unveiled plans Wednesday to use contingency dollars and bed tax funds to support a new public safety initiative.
In a release issued from the city council's office, council Chairman Glenn Choolokian and fellow lawmakers Sam Fruscione and Robert Anderson Jr. announced that they intend to allocate $50,000 in council contingency funds and $25,000 in bed tax revenues to bolster community policing programs in 2013.
The same group of lawmakers voted earlier this month to cut $30,000 in bed tax revenue originally earmarked for the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center on Pine Avenue as well as reduce the amount of city property tax revenue allocated to both the Niagara Falls Block Club Council and the Niagara Beautification Commission as part of this year's budget.
On Wednesday, members of the council majority said they are moving to direct additional city funds to the Niagara Falls Police Department as part of a plan outlined by new police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto who is looking to increase the number of officers on city streets, including those assigned to patrol cars and foot patrols.
"If our streets aren't safe, then none of us are safe," Anderson said in the statement. "We've decided that it's time to move forward with increased financial support for our police department.”
All three council members were criticized by dozens of residents and NACC users during the Feb. 4 meeting during which they voted to pull funding for the cultural center, block clubs and beautification commission. At the time, they argued that the community would be better used by re-allocating bed tax revenues from the NACC to a community policing initiative. During last year's budget deliberations, the council agreed to establish a contingency fund that allows them to oversee the dispersement of overtime funds as needed for police, code enforcement and other personnel this year.