Niagara Gazette

Opinion

December 20, 2012

GUEST VIEW: An eventful year for the Niagara Falls City Council

Niagara Gazette — The road to the 2013 city budget was long and winding. Thankfully we successfully reached the end of that road at the Dec. 10 city council meeting with the adoption of the 2013 budget.

The budget was a success when you consider how it began and where it eventually ended; It was 30 days late, millions of dollars in debt with cuts to services, layoffs and large tax hikes for homeowner and business. Our council took Mayor Paul Dyster’s 8.3 percent homeowner tax increase down to zero and we reduced the business tax while the mayor proposed raising it 5 percent.

The council’s work to prepare the 2013 budget was a joint effort that demonstrated what can be accomplished when elected officials practice cooperation instead of confrontation. I want to thank council members Bob Anderson, Glenn Choolokian and Charles Walker for working in a continuous spirit of genuine cooperation.

A major bone of contention during the budget preparation was the city’s financial support of USA Niagara. The question of this subsidy was unfortunately turned into a debate as to the merits of USA Niagara’s projects and effectiveness. The fact is that with the casino revenue gone (temporarily if not permanently) the city isn’t in a position to subsidize any agency no matter how they perform. When we’re having difficulty paying the bills, and casino revenue has been eliminated, we cannot in good conscience put the taxpayers on the hook for another $3.1 million.

With 2012 coming to a close I’d like to take a moment to review the significant accomplishments of the 2012 Niagara Falls City Council.

In March we took steps to ban the importation, treatment and handling of hydraulic fracturing waste water in the city. This council ban was recognized positively by environmental leaders across the region and state. This “fracking water ban” was an historic moment for Niagara Falls. With this law our city showed the nation that Niagara Falls refuses to become a dumping ground for the hydraulic fracturing industry.

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