By Tony Farina
Niagara Falls GOP City Council candidate Michael Gawel has raised questions in a Facebook post about Democratic council candidate Brian Archie’s role at the Niagara Falls Housing Authority where Archie serves as secretary.
Gawel asks if the Housing Authority still owns a single family home, and is former executive director Stephanie Cowart’s sister still living there, even though Cowart has been gone since 2016? Cowart was fined and sentenced to probation after being convicted of theft concerning government funds.
According to Gawel’s post, Cowart’s sister has had a repayment plan since 2012 and owed $5,088.70. Gawel asks in his post, what is the balance owed today?
The problem, according to Gawel, a CPA, is that the Housing Authority’s secretary, Archie, has said nothing about the matter and the Housing Authority’s financial records have not been filed for public review since 2019. Imagine, no fiscal accounting publicly available since 2019, and Archie wants to represent taxpayers as a city lawmaker.
Gawel also asks if former executive director Clifford Scott is still being paid by the authority under an agreement with the city that paid $5,000 to the authority, or has he completely moved on to the city’s payroll as the code enforcement officer and director of community development. Scott was removed as executive director earlier this year, relieved of his duties after a special meeting.
“Timely financial information is the key to planning for any business or government entity,” wrote Gawel. “You cannot prepare a comprehensive budget without timely financials. As your councilman, I will review the mayor’s budget, discuss it with other councilmembers, get input from residents and businesses and makes suggestions or resolutions to change and modify the budget. Fiscal responsibility is important for all.”
It’s a clear message that Archie, holding a key position with the Housing Authority, is not fit to serve as a lawmaker since where he now serves has not provided timely financials on the Housing Authority’s fiscal situation, an agency with a budget surpassing $10 million.