BY DENISE JEWELL

jewelld@gnnewspaper.com

Mayor Vince Anello is waiting for word from the city explaining how much of the $6.8 million in slots revenue that arrived in a city bank account Monday can be spent by the municipality.

Anello said the money was available to the city Monday as anticipated, but that officials have not yet received an official correspondence from the state explaining how much the city can keep.

“We still don’t have an itemized list on how the money is to be dispersed,” Anello said.

The confusion stems from a memorandum of understanding brokered between Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, state Sen. George Maziarz and Gov. George Pataki that splits the local share of Seneca Niagara Casino slot machine revenue earned in 2004 and 2005.

The agreement provides a break-down of how to divide $23.9 million from the two years between local entities. However, the Seneca Nation of Indians has not yet sent the slots revenue it owes from 2005 to the state.

So when the state Comptroller’s Office wired $6.8 million to the city Monday, the money arrived with little explanation of how it should be distributed.

According to the memorandum dividing the money, the city will have to pay interest if it fails to send a portion of the money to the Niagara Falls School District, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. in 35 days as long as the three entities provide a detailed capital plan for the money.

The seven-page memorandum provides percentages for how much each agency should receive based on the total revenue from 2004 and 2005. Under that breakdown, the city would receive about $10.65 million from the two years to spend on debt service, infrastructure and economic development projects.

Anello said it was unclear Monday whether the $6.8 million was intended solely for the city or whether it included the money that needs to be paid to the three entities.

“I need to know specifically who gets what, so I am waiting for a letter from the state,” City Controller Maria Brown said.

Anello and the City Council have not yet agreed on a spending plan for the city’s share of the money, aside from about $2 million that was put in the city’s 2006 operating budget for debt and lost property taxes.

LaSalle resident Daniel Wheeler said he would like to see a portion of the money used to repave streets and sidewalks in his community.

While the city has used some slots revenue to repave streets in LaSalle, streets in other areas of the city have qualified for federal community development money for pavement projects.

Wheeler said he has seen few impacts from the slots revenue in his neighborhood.

“That was part of the selling points — that we were going to see our bond rating go up and all that, and we were going to get new roads,” Wheeler said. “Where are the returns?”

Under its 2002 tribal compact with the state, the Seneca Nation of Indians pays a portion of its slot revenue from its Niagara Falls casino to the state in exchange for the right to operate casinos in the area. In turn, the city pays a portion of that money to local entities.

The city has only received one other slots payment in 2004.

Contact Denise Jewellat 282-2311, ext. 2245.

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