The 2018 Niagara Falls city budget, otherwise known as Mayor Paul Dyster’s massive tax increase, has every chance of passing, despite the outcry raised by taxpayers in what is already the most highly taxed municipality in the state.
At Monday night’s City Council meeting a vote was taken on a resolution to postpone the dates of some of the budget hearings, put forth by Councilmembers Andrew Touma and Kristen Grandinetti, who are both running for re-election in a six way race.
They also managed to get the starting times of the hearings changed from 5 p.m. to 4 p.m. in an apparent attempt to prevent working taxpayers from witnessing the process.
Additionally, whatever changes are made to Mayor Dyster’s budget need to be subsequently reviewed by the mayor, who has the power to veto any and all changes. The Council needs four votes to override these vetos, and with the pro-Dyster Council majority of Mr. Touma, Ms. Grandinetti and Charles Walker remaining in office until January 1, regardless of who wins the election, the chances of any significant overrides are slim to none.
Slim just left town, by the way.
Dr. Dyster has proposed whopping property tax increases of nearly three percent for homeowners and 14 percent for businesses. He claims the increases are necessary due to the loss of revenue from the Seneca Niagara Casino, which handed the city between $16 million and $22 million a year.
The mayor blew through nearly $250 million of this cash, mostly plugging holes in previous city budgets. When longtime city Controller Maria Brown called him out on it publicly, he fired her.
An audit released by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli agreed with Ms. Brown’s assessment 100 percent and stated frankly that the city would be flat broke in December.
And asked whether the city could expect any additional aid from the state to stave off the looming crisis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo laughed out loud before saying, “No.”
Interestingly, Mayor Dyster’s 2018 budget contains no belt tightening at City Hall, no layoffs or anything else that might ameliorate the need for such a massive tax increase.
City Hall sources told the Niagara Falls Reporter that there will be only one budget hearing that will allow public input, scheduled for November 30, and the actual vote on the tax hike will likely occur on December 3.
In other words, nothing can be done by anyone to prevent one of the most fiscally reckless administrations in the city’s history from what it is about to do.
The result will be even more abandoned homes in Niagara Falls as hardworking, taxpaying families continue to flee the most crime ridden municipality in the state, and more and more already struggling businesses close up shop for good.
That is the legacy of Paul Dyster. The Dyster who has been elected three times as mayor with the help of the city unions and the teacher’s union, along with tens of thousands of dollars sent by out of town and out of state donors seeking favor at City Hall.
All of those groups have done very well under the mayor’s nine year reign of error, while everyone else here has suffered.