Niagara Gazette — Once again, the Niagara Falls City Council majority is making a costly error. Once again, they will tell you that they are the taxpayers’ watchdogs in the process. Gentlemen, numbers don’t lie, even when you do.
The council majority, made up of Sam Fruscione, Bob Anderson, and Glenn Choolokian, cut a part-time grant administrator position from the 2013 budget. In short, that position managed hundreds of thousands of competitive grant funds at a clear return on investment. On May 28, the council had the opportunity to make things right and fund the part-time position at $15,000. Again, it was voted down.
Choolokian said that the funds were not available because these are hard times. That is false and just more “do as I say, not as I do” behavior. The council majority has magically found money for raises and overtime for the people they like, and the community groups that they are politically connected to. Throughout this year, Fruscione, Anderson, and Choolokian have made it clear that they do not care about facts, return on investment, or what the community thinks.
The grant administrator position is just that latest irresponsible example. Ironically, managing competitive grants is a revenue maker for the city, as opposed to many of the council majority’s pet projects. The council majority is jeopardizing a huge amount of money that has already been granted to the city. Some of this money has been put up by the city ahead of time and just needs to be reimbursed (given back to the city).
When you have a shrinking tax base, as we do, it is imperative that we continue to apply for grant money and be sure those grants are administered properly and all paperwork is filed. We are the only municipality who does not have a grant administrator.
Check with our partners, the Niagara Falls City School District. They have been competing for and winning grants for many years. Those grants have provided the district with monies and supplies they would never have been able to afford.
In the end, the council majority’s decisions are not about grants or financial responsibility. Fruscione, Anderson, and Choolokian want to continue to build a wall of bad press, embarrassment and patronage around this city. Apparently, they have taken a cue from their political mentor, Sen. George Maziarz. Negativity is their business, and right now business is good.
The council majority will continue to criticize, and try block funding and positive development from Niagara Falls unless they can take credit for it. They will use nostalgia and smoke and mirrors to remind you of easier times, and tell you that their political opponents are to blame for all our problems. All the while, Fruscione, Anderson, and Choolokian continue to build a voting record, and a library of quotes that are holding our city back.
Today they are putting needed grant funding in jeopardy; tomorrow it will be something else … unless the public calls them out for this reckless behavior.
What will we do if we have to pay back some of these grants that are not being administered?Kristen Grandinetti is a Niagara Falls City Councilmember.