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Council Chairman Declines Oshei Challenge

The chairman of the Niagara Falls City Council said late Monday night that the majority on the council would be “unlikely” to consider a so-called "challenge" from the Buffalo – based John R. Oshei Foundation to match up to $15,000 in aid to the NACC if the council agrees to restore public assistance to the arts center which was cut last week.

The council voted down a measure that would have handed $30,000 of city money to the NACC.

The Oshei Foundation sent a press release out Monday afternoon, rather than contact the council members directly, announcing their plan.

Robert D. Gioia, the president of the Oshei Foundation, said he considers the NACC to be one of the most important cultural institutions in Niagara Falls, according to a report in the Niagara Gazette.

Oshei gave the NACC a $300,000 multi-year grant in 2007.

“It looks like the mayor is making this into a political football,” said Council Chairman Choolokian, who indicated that Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster got the foundation involved and had it announced in the newspapers before the council had a chance to learn of it. “I wish the Mayor would have used this much energy to work with us on solving the 2013 budget crisis.”

The council majority slashed Mayor Dyster’s proposed eight percent tax hike for residential property owners down to a zero tax increase budget for 2013.

In any event, this new Oshei development, which might go under the category of “cheater’s proof,” shows that the council majority was wise in holding off giving $30,000 of taxpayer’s money to the NACC. Within a week, a large Buffalo foundation that can easily afford the behest has offered up to $15,000. Chances are, if the council holds out, and the Oshei Foundation’s president’s view of the NACC is sincere – Oshei will - indeed it must- pay the whole $30,000 and more.

That is their mission: to aid "one of the most important cultural institutions" as they describe the NACC.

Hence, the taxpayers will be spared the expense of continuing to support the perpetually dependent NACC.

“We took that vote (to cut NACC) in the face of strong opposition because we are trying to send the message that we can’t carry everybody on the backs of taxpayers anymore,” said Choolokian. “We came close to having a big tax increase this year, and we’re certainly not out of the woods with so many challenges still out there. We have to be careful with the public’s money.”

City taxpayers have gifted the NACC over $800,000 since 2003.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Feb 12 , 2013