How long will it take?
That is, how long will it take before the Seneca Nation of Indians and the State of New York are in complete control of Niagara Falls.
If Mayor Paul Dyster had his way, it would be sooner rather than later.
Clearly, neither the Seneca nor Gov. Andrew Cuomo have much interest in the dwindling number of people who actually live here. Property owned by the tribe and the state is tax exempt, while those who own homes and businesses pay some of the highest taxes in the country.
The crumbling neighborhoods, stretching from the Seneca Niagara Casino to the city’s North End, have largely been abandoned by the government, and promised residential development by the Seneca has yet to take place 15 years after the casino opened.
The tribe did open a hotel, which pays no taxes, and the biggest gas station in the city, which also pays no taxes. When you gas up you can also buy a carton of untaxed cigarettes that might kill you, if you’re lucky.
Normal, hardworking, taxpaying people are leaving the city in droves. They’re sick and tired of paying top dollar to live in the most dangerous city in New York, one of the most dangerous in the entire country.
Industry has also left Niagara Falls, leaving only tourism as a reliable revenue source. Now the state is proposing to take over most of the tourist district not controlled by the Seneca, and the tribe’s announcement that it plans to build a mega mall on the mini reservation they were gifted is just a matter of time.
Before the Seneca stopped payments of casino revenue to the state in March, Albany had collected $1.4 billion since 2002. Of that, Niagara Falls, Salamanca and Buffalo split up a bit less than $400 million, while the state kept a billion for itself.
The losers will be city residents, whose taxes will be driven even higher as taxpaying businesses fail and even more people flee the scene.
In the meantime, the cash flowing to the Cattaraugus and Allegany Reservations, as well as Albany from Niagara Falls State Park and the land grab being currently proposed, will continue unabated.
These people are your enemies. They look at your city as a piggy bank to be robbed.
Mr. Dyster, Mr. Cuomo, Empire State Development honcho Sam Hoyt, Chris Glynn of the Maid of the Mist, Jeremy Jacobs of Delaware North, Seneca Nation of Indians President Todd Gates and the Buffalo interests who have bought and paid for many of your elected officials want you to believe everything’s all right.
For them, it is.