My name is Rick Smith, a lifelong resident of Niagara Falls, and I am running for City Council. I graduated from Niagara Falls High School in 1965.
After I served in the US Army from 1966-1969, I returned to Niagara Falls and went to work for Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation. I worked there from 1969 until 1996, when I had to retire due to back surgeries.
Starting in 1996, I got involved with my community. I started a block club and installed a brand new park in the Black Creek neighborhood. I was appointed to the Niagara Falls Planning Board in 2007 and in 2009, I was elected its Chairman. I still serve as the Chairman and I have not missed a meeting in my time in this position.
I also started attending Council meetings in 2003, and have not missed one since. I completely understand the frustrations of the citizens of this city because I have witnessed firsthand the way the Council and the Mayor vote on many issues that come before them.
There are many, many things that need to be fixed in our town. The biggest of the issues are the way Casino funds are spent, the garbage totes and the frozen water pipes. I feel we need a separate budget for the Casino funds and they should be allocated for the most important items that need to be fixed in the city.
We need to go to the NYS Taxation and Finance department and renegotiate the casino compact in order to use the funds to better help the people of our city. The current casino compact has given over a billion dollars to New York State but it hasn't done much to help the citizens of Niagara Falls and that needs to change. As for the garbage totes, the citizens should have been more involved in this process. Decisions were made without the input of the residents. We were then told to live with it and that is unacceptable.
I don't know if the contract can be reopened, but we need to reopen the dialogue with Modern Disposal to see what can be done to remedy this problem. The frozen water pipes should have immediately been looked at by the contractor in order to solve the problem. The financing should not have been the main concern as this is a quality of life issue for the tax paying residents. The citizens of Niagara Falls deserve better than the way they have been treated. Meeting need to be held with the State and the water board in order to come to an agreement that is equitable with all parties.
My agenda is what is best for the people of Niagara Falls. I resolve to try and help get the city back on the right track. While I can't promise to lower taxes or increase jobs, I will always research everything that comes in front of me to the utmost of my ability, to come to the best decision. I will treat the city's budget as if it were my own money. We cannot go on spending the way we have been without any income to offset it.
I know I have only scratched the surface of the many problems we face in Niagara Falls, but I feel with the right people in office, we can turn the city around. While it may never get back to the glory years, we can make the city much better than it is today. That is why my main objective is the people of this city and I will try with all my heart to bring the city back. I thank you for your consideration in voting for me on primary day Thursday September 10th.