By Tony Farina
With the state budget being passed in bits and pieces in Albany, it is difficult to figure out how much real money will be flowing to municipalities like Niagara Falls when all is said and done.
Assemblyman Angelo Morinello (R. C. – Niagara Falls), said Wednesday night that things should become clearer in the next few days when the numbers on economic development aid will be carved out of the bills being passed by weary lawmakers anxious to get out of Albany. The budget deadline was last Saturday.
“There are a lot of different pots of money in these bills,” said Morinello, “and while we can’t identify the specific numbers yet, I feel Niagara Falls and the entire region are being recognized.”
The pots of money the assemblyman is referring to are part of the Buffalo Billion Squared economic development initiative, following up on the first Buffalo Billion investment in the region. Part II is expected to include money for land acquisition for properties bordering the state park in Niagara Falls, like the long abandoned Turtle, and other downtown development.
But just how much and where the money will flow still seems a bit uncertain as the governor and lawmakers struggle to come to agreement on the 2017 spending plan, a difficult process that at times has been very contentious.
While Morinello thinks the area is getting “recognized,” a positive sign, what eventually comes down the pike from Albany remains unclear, and that includes a “world-class lodge” plan for Goat Island State Park that local elected officials oppose, and economic development money even as the three Western New York host cities for Seneca gaming are facing the prospect of a loss of slot revenue from the Senecas after the tribe announced last month that under the gaming compact extension, the payments to the state are no longer required.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Seneca President Todd Gates are expected to meet in the very near future to discuss the issue. That meeting will have to await passage of the state budget which could come shortly.