City officials finally willing to accept Reporter’s advice on casino cash?


Over the past eight years, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster has burned through around $200 million in revenue the city receives as the local share of the slot machine revenue from the Seneca Niagara Casino.

And for almost as long, The Niagara Falls Reporter has been calling for a casino cash plan.

Dyster spent more than $700,000 staging concerts at the Hard Rock Café, $2.2 million for trash totes, $250,000 for a new roof on the Hyde Park clubhouse at the golf course, $4 million toward building an unwanted and unneeded train station and $ million to subsidize USA Niagara to pay Global Spectrum to run events and parties on Old Falls Street.

More than $5 million has gone to the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. $http://southbuffalonews.com50,000 was used to bail out Community Missions on an IRS tax lien, the Underground Railroad Heritage Commission gets $350,000 a year and has accomplished exactly nothing, and the disastrous Holiday Market got $225,000, the $500,000 was spent fixing up an abandoned fire house to house the failed Isaiah 6 organization and another $http://southbuffalonews.com50,000 went to the Aquarium of Niagara to build new habitat for the penguins that live there.

The list is far from complete. A full accounting of all the half baked schemes, pie in the sky development initiatives and hare brained ideas that the casino cash has been wasted on would fill this entire newspaper.

Most recently, Dyster earmarked $50,000 out of $435,000 that will be spent to erect an odd looking statue on a Rainbow Boulevard traffic island to commemorate the http://southbuffalonews.com909 Boundary Waters Treaty (before that Dyster allotted $http://southbuffalonews.com8,000 for Boundary Waters Treaty celebrations), and huge sums have been allocated each year to plug gigantic holes in the city’s bloated budget.

This year, $http://southbuffalonews.com2.5 million will go directly into the general fund.

There has never been a plan for the spending of the casino revenue. Ever. Each of these deals has been a one-off, and the money itself has been treated rather like an off the books slush fund.  

The proliferation of casinos throughout the northeast since the opening of the Seneca Niagara Casino has taken its toll though, and revenue is dropping precipitously, as this newspaper has predicted it would for years.

The third quarter allocation, a slice of slot machine profits governed by the state tribal compact, came in Tuesday at $4.3 million. The payment represents a decrease of more than $500,000 in comparison to last year’s payment.

A total of $http://southbuffalonews.com6.8 million is expected this year, down from more than $20 million just a few years ago.

And now, with the horse long gone, city officials are moving to close the barn door. They say a casino revenue spending plan is needed.

An eerie feeling of déjà vu descended on the Reporter newsroom Tuesday, as city Financial Advisory panel member Frank Soda advised a priority schedule be compiled by March while City Council Chairman Andrew Touma said he would like to see it before the end of February.

City Controller Maria Brown called the need immediate.

“Taxpayers deserve something where they realize their elected officials are working on a list,” Touma said. “Hopefully by the end of February we could have something in place.”

The sudden concern is laughable and would seem to have more to do with the Dyster administration’s request for a state bailout by the Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments.

Clearly, adult supervision is needed, but the children want to clean things up as much as possible before the grown ups get here.

dyster 5

Hands on Mayor: Paul Dyster found opportunities to spend casino money at events he personally attended and acted as MC.


Artist’s conception of ‘Niagara Falls Casino Spending Plan’ during the last eight years.


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