A $106 Million Budget

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Dyster Administration Proposes Garbage ‘User Fee,’ Salary Increases & Curious Job Change for Piccirillo at Taxpayer Expense!

 

By: Frank Parlato & Nicholas D. D’Angelo

Mayor Paul Dyster’s proposed budget for 2019 came less than two days after Governor Andrew Cuomo advanced $12.3 million of future Seneca casino money to the City of Niagara Falls.

Over the past few months, word from City Hall was that this was going to be Dyster’s “smallest budget ever.”  It leaked out a few weeks ago that there “would be cuts from City Hall.”

Someone released a statement saying there would be “no pay raises” for members of the administration.

But them the Cuomo gift came – at just the right moment – and as it turns out, none of that lean and frugal budget talk was necessary.

 

What residents of Niagara Falls got was one of Mayor Dyster’s largest budgets ever.

A $106 million bloated budget that includes salary increases, unusual capital expenditures, the creation of brand new administration positions – at least one of which is to accommodate Dyster protégé Seth Piccirillo’s planned run for mayor in 2019, and subsidizing various city-run operations.

Let’s take a look at the highlights:

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Mayor Paul Dyster’s total proposed expenditures for 2019 is an astounding $106,659,225.

It is only the second time in history that it topped $100 million. The last time was last year (by the way).

In contrast, in 2013, the general budget was $82,371,776. That was the last year there was a council majority who opposed Dyster – Sam Fruscione, Glenn Choolokian and the late Robert Anderson.

But voters wanted Fruscione out and got him out – replacing the majority with a new Dyster supported majority led by Andrew Touma.

And the spending went up, up and away.

This year Dyster set a new record – for deficit spending . At no time during Dyster’s 11 years in office, did he face a deficit as large as the one he currently faces ($13.9 million).

After bungling the Seneca Casino renewal deal – which – under Dyster’s watch – went from the Senecas handing over in slot revenues some $16 million per year that went to the city – down to zero, he got a one time bail out [of $12.3 million] from his inept partner in making the insane new rent free Seneca deal – Andrew Cuomo.

It remains to be seen if these two leaders can negotiate any future payments from the Senecas.

Meantime, the fiction of the $12.3 million is that it is an advance from the NY state taxpayers to the city until the Senecas agree to pay [if ever.]

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Looking at Dyster’s proposed 2019 budget for the City Clerk’s Department, you will see that four out of the five employees are receiving pay increases. Notably are the two “Senior Clerk’s” who are receiving each receiving a $3,094 pay increase.

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Another Department with numerous employees receiving pay raises is the City Controller’s Office.

Specifically, thirteen employees are receiving pay raises with the overall budget for the department rising from $952,005 to $985,977.

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The Department of Code Enforcement is seeing a major increase in expenses and much of it is a scheme to allow Seth Piccirillo to run for mayor.

If the council approves, Piccirillo will shift from being paid as Director of Community Development to being paid from the budget of the department of Code Enforcement.

This is being proposed by Dyster in order for Piccirillo to skirt the Hatch Act – which prohibits mayoral candidates to run for office if they are paid a majority of their salary in federal funds.

Piccirillo’s present job as Director of Community Development uses Federal HUD money.

So you might think that Piccirillo’s sneaky move to another department would at least not cost taxpayers anything extra.

Think again!!

While Community Development’s overall budget drops by $100,000 as Piccirillo moves over to Code Enforcement, that department jumps by $154,000.

In 2018 the total expenses for Code Enforcement was $520,312. In 2019 – with Seth hopping over to run for mayor [at taxpayers’ expense it seems] Dyster’s proposed budget jumps up to $674,609.

Piccirillo’s new “I want to run for mayor” $83,232 salary for his new job as Director of Code Enforcement – with benefits and pension helped boost the costs of the department by more than $154,000.

In addition, with a  little sleight of hand, Dyster shifted people around and handed out raises.

Eleven employees at Community Development will get a pay raise. And there is a new job being created to replace Seth and one job will be swapped for Seth.

Dyster moved some other costs around.

The net result for both departments – both of them under Piccirillo – is that taxpayers will pay $54,000 more per year.

Supporters of Dyster and Piccirillo will no doubt argue that a mere $54,000 extra for the taxpayer is quite a small price to pay to ensure Piccirillo can run for Mayor and carry forward the policies and practices of Mayor Dyster.

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While we could go on much longer with the excess and eccentricities of this taxpayer unfriendly budget, we will conclude with one last item and the recommendation that you study the budget yourself so you will better understand what you are paying for – especially in light of the fact that Dyster will likely propose a tax increase, a garbage fee, and a reassessment – all with one aim in mind – to get more money out of you in order for him to pay for his bloated budget.

But finally, in Dyster’s proposed budget for 2019, it looks like the Train Station, which cost local taxpayers more than $4.5 million to build, is breaking even.

If you take a closer look, however, it is breaking even only because Niagara Falls taxpayers are paying $193,547 to get it to break even.

In other words, part of the “revenue” portion of the train station projection for 2019 is nothing more than a transfer from the general fund for $193,547.

Dyster is calling this transfer of city taxpayers’ money, “revenue” so that the train station breaks even in the budget.

The train station is not breaking even. Not quite. Taxpayers will paying nearly $18,000 per month to fund the nearly always empty train station.

Funny, the old train station did not cost taxpayers anything since Amtrak paid the expenses in their old station. But Dyster wanted a new $45 million train station.

This is emblematic of everything Dyster does – wasteful. Like his budget. Big and wasteful.

But the new station, Dyster supporters say, even if it is empty, sure looks pretty.

One Comment

  1. Train Station: Yeah, I was wondering if that subsidy was coming from Bed Tax, But why is it that no one ever complains about subsidizing the Niagara Falls Airport?

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