To the politically uninitiated the administration of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster remains a mystery.
The Reporter offers this article in an attempt to crack the mystery and help voters cut through the political darkness to the heart of the 2015 mayoral campaign.
With uninformed voters too busy to become informed and with candidates often too lazy to become knowledgeable, the chance of the upcoming election bringing necessary change remains questionable. Not to fear: Overcoming a problem begins with acknowledgement that there is a problem. From problem acknowledgement we move to problem resolution and a better city.
In that spirit we’ve boiled the list of needed city fixes down to:
1) City Finances: the city is spending more money than it’s taking in. You and I call it being broke or “under water.” Now it’s called a “structural deficit” as if the new buzz phrase changes the fact that that the Dyster administration mismanages taxpayer dollars. The 2013 state audit nailed it and yet no one seems to have read the audit. The answers are all right there: mismanagement, money gone and unaccounted for, gimmicks to balance the budget, and abused casino revenue. Read the audit. Learn from the audit. Realize that the recurring city deficit must be solved, once and for all. Realize that the history of the debt management must be thoroughly reviewed. If you’re a candidate and you don’t grasp the difference between city deficit and city debt then you shouldn’t be running.
Casino revenue. The city needs two things, neither of which it currently has, but should have: an annual casino spending plan and an agreement on what the casino revenue can be spent on. The Dyster administration has a secret spending plan that we see at the last minute as each burst of expenditure takes place. The State broadly notes what the revenue can be used for, but the Dyster administration strategically ignores the State recommendations depending on who wants the casino cash. And, whether people realize it or not the Governor, with the acquiescence of the mayor, extended the casino compact another ten years as the casino revenue impasse was settled in 2013.
2) Trash and recycling contract. It must be reviewed and corrected where possible. The Dyster administration has, sadly, introduced a new level of resignation and a “what’s done is done” attitude to city government. That attitude must be rejected. The courthouse, train station, trash plan, parking plan, ice pavilion, Isaiah 61, Underground Railroad Interpretive Center and a number of other disturbing projects and programs “have been done” by this administration. However, leaving them “done” without investigating them and making the necessary repairs is dereliction of duty rising to a level of cowardice.
3) Cost of government. Dyster has taken salaries, overtime and stipends through the roof and saddled the taxpayers for decades to come as those numbers play out through pensions. Some of the Dyster favored employees have (the Reporter has foiled for the information) literally increased their salaries with overtime and stipends by as much as 70% or more. Dyster has added employees at breakneck speed to the payroll, a payroll he has swelled and yet disavows any responsibility for. He’s added parks and projects, increasing the need for more employees. He refuses to deal with the ticking time bomb of public safety cost, a bomb that will explode in the near future if the next mayor doesn’t address it.
4) Train station. It goes on the tracks next year and there’s no current city plan to maintain the facility. We believe Dyster and DeSantis have a secret plan to ask the feds for the maintenance cash. Most of those funds will go to a consultant/operator. The city will have to add (remember, Dyster complains about personnel costs yet keeps adding employees and raising salaries for friends) people to clean, maintain and secure the building. And there’s legal consultants, insurance and liability, police protection etc. The next mayor better have a clear understanding of the long-range train station costs in relation to the budget.
5) Transparency and Integrity. The words every candidate campaigns on but always loses interest in once elected. The current administration works every day to frustrate the transparency process by ignoring FOILS. That’s not acceptable. Information is withheld for a reason: the administration doesn’t want residents to know what’s going on. A lack of transparency automatically leads to a lack of trust and when the residents can’t trust their government everything goes downhill from there.