Niagara Gazette

Opinion

November 29, 2012

GUEST VIEW: An indepth look at the Seneca Casino issue

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — It is clear New York Finance Law 99H is separate from the compact and refers to the fund as, the “tribal-state compact revenue account.” The city, through its legislators, could negotiate with the state for better distribution of the funds, But the Seneca Nation is not obligated to do so. For one thing, the city of Niagara Falls hasn’t the wherewithal to grant exclusivity. Secondly, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act specifically states the tribe will negotiate with the state.

I think there are faults on both sides of the exclusivity issue and, except that it should have happened three years ago, and the arbitrator should uphold the exclusivity clause where it applies to expanded casinos by the state into the exclusivity area. I take no stand in the arbitration issue.

What I do have a problem with is how we address casino cash issues going forward. In my observation, although, there isn’t any path for the Seneca Nation to pay us directly, we can change how OUR funds are credited and disposed.

For instance:

Since we lost tax revenue, we could assess the casino properties at full market value and, that portion (of the tribal-state compact revenue account fund) could go directly into the city’s tax revenue.

There should be no mandates — casino funds should be distributed for economic development and, where feasible, should meet a reasonable return on investment.

Casino funds should never be used to supplement budget shortfalls. Uncollected casino funds should not be used to balance the city’s budget.

Whatever the arbitrator’s decision, It is time for the city to move on in a well-informed, prudent manner uninfluenced by petty politics.

Dan Davis of the Niagara Community Forum

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