Tonawanda News — The city of Niagara Falls has seen the end of four years of financial uncertainty.
New York state and the Seneca Nation of Indians have ended their dispute over exclusivity terms in the 2002 gaming compact between the two parties and Niagara Falls and the other host community cities — Buffalo and Salamanca — will see all of the money that has been withheld by the Senecas since the dispute began. Future casino cash payments are expected to be paid to the host communities as scheduled.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo flew to Niagara Falls Thursday afternoon to announce the negotiated settlement between the Senecas and the state.
Cuomo said the Senecas had a “legitimate disagreement” with the state, before thanking the Senecas for working with his office to complete the deal.
“Unnecessary hardships were endured by many parties,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo went on to apologize specifically to Mayor Paul Dyster and the city of Niagara Falls.
The city has had to cut services and has had its bond rating lowered by two rating agencies this year because of hardships brought on by the withheld funds.
Niagara Falls will receive $89 million, while Salamance will get $34.5 million and Buffalo will get $15.5 million — all of the 25 percent share of the local impact payments outlined in the original compact.
The state will receive about $408 million and the Senecas will retain $209 million in withheld revenues and resume making regular annual payments to the state, according to a release from the governor’s office.
“We’re sorry that you had to go through what you went through,” Cuomo said. “But, today you’re being made whole for the past and tomorrow’s a new day.”
The agreement with the Senecas was the third deal Cuomo has struck with an Indian nation in recent weeks to keep competition away from existing casinos in exchange for settling lingering disputes.