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OCT 14- OCT 21, 2014

Late Budget Should Come as no Surprise Neither Should Size of Deficit

By Mike Hudson

October 14, 2014

When it comes to hosting rock concerts or beer festivals, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster can’t be beat.
But when it comes to turning in a balanced budget on time, well, not so much.

For the third year in a row, the city has spent considerably more than it has taken in. And Dyster missed the Oct. 1 deadline mandated by the City Charter for handing his proposed 2015 budget over to the city council, just as he did two years ago.

“We’re working very diligently to address what’s an ongoing structural issue in the budget,” the mayor said. “The gap we’re facing is larger than anticipated.”

Why this should be so when the gap has existed in each of the past three years is uncertain. The city simply spends significantly more than it takes in.

Who can forget Dyster’s famous “disaster budget” of 2012, when the city took in $78 million in revenues and spent a whopping $88 million. Dyster’s solution was simple: he sought a whopping 8.3 percent tax increase from the city’s already overtaxed property owners.

The council majority at the time – Sam Fruscione, Glenn Choolokian and Bob Anderson – responded with a hearty, “Hell no!” and, working with City Controller Maria Brown, found ways to cut costs so that the massive tax increase was avoided.

In 2013, Dyster couldn’t very well raise taxes since his Council allies, Kristen Grandinetti and Charles Walker, were running for re-election. Instead, using around $4.4 million in general fund reserves and another $5 million in Seneca casino cash, he covered his shortfall.

Rather than blame his chronic shortfalls on the city’s out of control corporate welfare program, subsidized rock concerts or white elephant projects such as the new train station, the mayor claims that his out of control spending is, well, out of his control.

“It’s no secret where the deficit is coming from,” the mayor said. “It’s driven by the personnel costs.”

 

 

 

 

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