It’s not the job of the Niagara Falls Reporter to run city government, but, since the $9 million shortfall represents a looming municipal tragedy that has within it the power to bankrupt Niagara Falls and turn the city over to a control board, we feel a duty to present recommendations.
If we were running city government we would:
All department heads, along with the mayor and city administrator, should take minimum 10 percent cuts in pay. It saves money, sets an example and sets the tone for all to follow.
All overtime must be ended except for fire and police and even there - only where absolutely needed.
No more purchasing of vehicles, office furniture, computers, rugs etc., for now.
Any city positions currently unfilled, open, or expected to open due to retirement should remain unfilled and closed out.
The unions must be brought respectfully to the table as partners to the solution and be told that there are no raises in the near future.
Review fire and police since they represent more than 40 percent of the budget. This is public safety, but it’s time to review staffing levels, overtime and efforts that result in inflated pension costs. Lockport, with less serious fiscal problems than Niagara Falls, is making these cuts as you read this.
No more contracts for consultants. It’s time for the mayor and his department heads to do their own work and planning. Step up.
No more legal consultants. With the use of outside law firms, the law department overhead has risen astronomically since 2008. It’s time for the law staff to step up.
Immediately end the city contract with the outside engineering firm. It’s time for the Dyster administration to hire a city engineer and stop the costly consulting and overtime due to the lack of an engineer.
Stop all casino cash spending and immediately draft a casino spending-plan to be shared with the residents in a spirit of transparency.
Cancel the work forced upon the Cayuga Island neighborhood at Jayne Park.
Bring in financial advisors carrying no conflicts of interest from the private sector to review the city’s debt and debt structure.
Ask the state comptroller for assistance in meeting the demands and recommendations of the 2013 State Comptroller audit of Niagara Falls government.
Bring back the $500,000 of casino cash that was awarded to the Isaiah 61 program and stop all rehabilitation work at the Highland Avenue fire hall immediately and demolish the building, saving the costs of future wasteful rehab efforts.
Bring back the $1.5 million of casino cash that was given to USA Niagara to operate the Conference Center and events and parties on Old Falls St.
Close the DPW Trash Office. The office sprang up out of thin air this summer with at least three employees, office space and vehicles. Close it and don’t look back.
Determine, now, what it will cost to open, operate and maintain the train station. Dyster wants a private firm to run the station…what will that cost?
Call Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office and respectfully tell them the city cannot afford the $4 million per year fee to co sponsor Cuomo’s economic development challenge contest.
Make a serious effort to collect outstanding traffic tickets, an effort that won’t involve a consultant who walks away with most of the money.
Take back the Hamister parcel and find a developer with cash in hand that will pay the city what the land is worth.
Painful reading isn’t it?
Expenditures have consequences.
No one said it was going to be easy.
Certainly, not Mayor Paul A. Dyster.