The city of Niagara Falls will “officially play host” to the 20http://southbuffalonews.com6 Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative annual conference this June.
City taxpayers will officially foot the bill.
The conference will host http://southbuffalonews.comhttp://southbuffalonews.com8 U.S. and Canadian representatives, including representatives from Niagara Falls, who will gather to eat, drink, network and discuss economic and ecological matters pertaining to the Great Lakes.
A last minute “walk-on resolution” by the mayor ensured city taxpayers will help fund the gathering.
The mayor asked the Niagara Falls City Council to set aside $75,000 to pay for unnamed expenses for the conference.
A “walked on” item is, when permitted by the council chairman, an item to be voted on right then and there – which is not announced in advance.
All other council votes must be announced several days in advance and posted on the city’s website so that the public is informed in advance.
A walk-on is typically used when sudden, urgent business crops up or, in the case of non transparent elected officials, when they want to minimize public awareness and discussion on a matter.
Mayor Paul Dyster and representatives of the taxpayer-supported Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. presented their surprise “memorandum of understanding” for the conference – which required approval by the council since it required taxpayer money to be spent.
Four of the 5 council members approved the taxpayer expense.
Councilman Ezra Scott opposed spending taxpayer money for the conference on a moment’s notice since there was, he said, no information provided to the council in advance of the meeting.
According to the Niagara Gazette, “the $75,000, which will come with $5,000 of NTCC funding, is something of an ‘insurance policy,’ Dyster said.
What this means is that $75,000 of taxpayer money will be placed in the mayor’s hands to spend on the conference as he deems fit without further confirmation from the council.
According to the Gazette, “The conference is touted to bring some $96,000 in estimated regional economic impact.”
An “estimated regional economic impact” analysis is a guess of what the change in economic activity between two scenarios will be: one assumes the economic event occurs, and one assuming it does not occur.
In this case, Dyster and the NTCC are estimating that the entire region – which includes more than Niagara Falls – will get $96,000 more in gross revenue, if the conference is held here.
The council was provided with little or no details of how that $96,000 number was ascertained and what percentage of the $96,000 will be spent in the city.
It is however reasonable to assume that spending $75,000 of taxpayer money to bring in $96,000 is not a profitable model.
Consider: if you sold $96,000 worth of goods and services and had to pay $75,000 in taxes on it. When you subtract the cost of goods and employees you would be losing money.
The Gazette reports the “conference will coincide with the Falls’ annual Jazz and Blues Festival.” How these two unrelated events will help each other is unclear.
It is possible that the $96,000 in spending assumes that the http://southbuffalonews.comhttp://southbuffalonews.com8 conference attendees (who are using taxpayer dollars from their own cities to get here) will attend the jazz and blues festival and purchase beer and other concessions there.
The conference has a mission which is to “integrate the agendas of social, environmental and civic institutions as they attempt to safeguard the economic and ecological integrity of the Great Lakes,” according to the Gazette. “The cities initiative, as a whole, works with officials and lawmakers to help ensure that integrity at the global, regional and local levels.”
Andrea Czopp, a communications manager at the NTCC, called the event “prestigious.”
“We’re excited about showing off our city,” she said.
It is unknown if taxpayers feel as excited as she does.