Niagara Gazette

Opinion

June 21, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Casino cash needs to be properly managed

Niagara Gazette — The casino settlement money, our money, has arrived and that’s a very good thing.

After four years of waiting for the disagreement between New York state and the Seneca Nation to be settled the portion of casino slot revenue owed to Niagara Falls will now be coming in the amount of $89 million.

The casino funds are here but so are the lingering, long-range fiscal problems of our city. It’s going to take hard work and cooperation between city council and mayor joined with effective planning to get our financial situation back in order.

As the casino revenue crisis played out our city suffered through two successive bond rating drops, with all the hard work done by the Niagara Fall City Council we avoided a tax increase and a reduction in city services that Mayor Paul Dyster proposed. The mayor nearly accepted a costly New York Power Authority cash settlement out of desperation. The city of Niagara Falls was criticized (rightly so) by the state comptroller for its spending habits and money management methods.

The casino revenue disagreement made for tough times for our city. So, for the settlement we are thankful but I see no reason for hats and horns and claims of a big win. At the end of the day this was our city finally getting what it was owed and what had been held back as New York State grew increasingly concerned over the pending arbitration outcome.

Throughout the entire process Niagara Falls had to go along for the ride with the state of New York as everything played out beyond our control.

We should be used to this by now since the casino compact was put in place by the state without our input. The casino revenue disbursement percentages were established by the state without our input. Our 52 downtown acres were taken from us without our input. And this final agreement was worked out by the state without our input.

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