Niagara Gazette

Opinion

June 13, 2013

SCHEER: Finally, the casino cash stalemate is over

Niagara Gazette — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the sheet of paper at 4:07 p.m. Thursday.

"It's done," he said. "Congratulations."

With that, Cuomo put a symbolic end to the great casino cash debate, arguably one of the darkest periods in the history of Niagara Falls, which is saying something around here.

Casino revenue, while a source of controversy at times, has become the lifeblood of the local municipal government.

Not only has it helped pave tattered roads and finance capital improvement projects, it has provided a stable source of income for a community where the tax base and population been trending down for many years.

It seems only after the Senecas stopped paying did the community truly realize just how important the money has become.

Thursday marked the official start of a new beginning, a time to not only celebrate the reunion of warring factions in the state and Senecas, but an opportunity for representatives in city government to finally breathe a little easier again.

After Cuomo's announcement, Controller Maria Brown characterized her feelings in a single word: Overwhelmed.

It was, after all, Brown's staff that had the unfortunate task of monitoring the city's rapidly dwindling accounts in the months since the Senecas stopped making regular casino cash payments.

After Cuomo's speech, Councilwoman Kristin Grandinetti could be heard thanking the Lord almighty for helping to bring Cuomo and Seneca Nation of Indians' President Barry Snyder Sr. to terms.

Councilman Charles Walker admitted he was planning to call next week for the creation of a nine-member panel to figure out what the city could do in the absence of casino revenue moving forward.

He too was relieved to hear Cuomo and Snyder assure him he could cancel his plans.

And then there was Mayor Paul Dyster, the guy who kept telling everyone — day in and day out and amid mounting financial pressure — to stay calm, be patient and have faith that it would all turn out OK.

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