Tonawanda News

Local News

November 10, 2012

NYPA agrees to plug casino budget gap

Tonawanda News — Mayor Paul Dyster’s proposed budget is no longer a disaster.

The Dyster administration announced Friday morning that a deal has been reached that will allow the New York Power Authority to provide the city of Niagara Falls with some much-needed financial assistance.

The power authority approved a measure which will spur the acceleration of $13.45 million in aid to help the city as it deals with cash flow issues related to the stoppage of casino revenue payments from the Seneca Nation of Indians. The Senecas stopped paying New York state in 2009 because, they assert, the state violated an exclusivity clause in the gaming compact between the parties signed in 2002 by operating slot machines in race tracks within the exclusivity zone outlined in the agreement.

Dyster credited the power authority’s board of trustees and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for helping to put the deal together and said that while the funding will change the outlook of the 2013 budget for the city, “difficult decisions” will still need to be made in the weeks ahead. 

“Many New York municipalities face economic hardship, but our case was special and needed unique attention,” Dyster said. “The state is just starting a major recovery from Hurricane Sandy and government operations have been disrupted with previous priorities pushed aside to deal with the emergency situation. Despite all of that, Governor Cuomo made helping Niagara Falls a top priority.”

The money - an acceleration of state aid referred to as a spin-up of aid in political circles - comes out of the host city payment, $850,000 a year that the city receives as part of the 2005 relicensing of the Niagara Power Project. The city will get the remaining 44 years worth payments in a lump sum at a discount rate, but has the option to return the money and go back to the original deal if and when it is paid the approximately $60 million it is owed in the gaming compact dispute.

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