The tough negotiating skills of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster earned him media bouquets last week for his resolution of the impasse between the city and the Niagara County SPCA, editorial praise apparently penned by writers who haven’t been in the city long enough to understand it was Dyster who created the “crisis” in the first place.
Back in 2013, the SPCA approached the city with a new contract. A five year pact that would have had the city paying $180,000 a year for animal control services, Dyster rejected it out of hand.
Previously, the city contract called for an annual payment of $83,520, but in the wake of a scandal over the excessive number of dogs and cats being killed at the Niagara County facility that ultimately led to the SPCA’s executive director resigning, Dyster called for the shelter to adopt a no kill policy to ensure the city’s participation.
The SPCA obliged, but it costs a lot more to care for and feed animals than it does to inject them with poison or slaughter them in gas chambers. In the case of Niagara Falls, which is responsible for about 60 percent of the animals that wind up in the shelter, that cost would be $76,480 more a year.
Dyster balked, and in 2014 announced that the city would spend $3.2 million to build its own animal shelter. He also took the SPCA to court in an attempt to force the not for profit to continue providing services at a price he wanted to pay.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard Kloch pointed out the spurious nature of the city’s argument.
Last week, Dyster agreed to pay $223,127 for the SPCA to continue providing service for a year, an increase of more than $43,000 over what was offered in the first place.
A year and a half of tough talk amounted to an increase in cost rather than any decrease.
Dyster’s negotiating skills, if one could call them that, were, judging by the result, to the benefit of the SPCA rather than city taxpayers. Still, the editorial writers, whose memories apparently don’t extend as far back as two years ago, chalked last week’s settlement up as a victory for Dyster.
The mayor no longer claims to have been an arms negotiator during the Cold War in the talks between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.
His recent negotiations with the city’s dog catchers provides a glimpse into why he wasn’t.