City Councilmembers Kristen Grandinetti and Andrew Touma have come up with what they think is a great idea, that is, defer consideration of Mayor Paul Dyster’s whopping proposed tax increase until after the November election.
Niagara Falls is already the most highly taxed municipality in the state based on the total value of the property here, and New York is the most highly taxed state in the nation.
Both Mr. Touma and Ms. Grandinetti, who have acted largely as rubber stamps for the mayor’s out of control spending habits, are running for reelection.
Mayor Dyster has proposed a 2.8 percent tax increase on residential property here and a 14 percent increase on business properties that will undoubtedly force some businesses to close and cause even more people to flee the city altogether.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recently issued a highly critical audit of the Dyster administration’s spending, and said the numbers show that the city will be completely broke by December.
Councilmembers Touma and Grandinetti have proposed putting off the budget process until after the November 7 general election.
“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED,” reads their resolution, which will be voted on at the Oct. 16 council meeting and of which the two are the sole sponsors, “by the City Council of the City of Niagara Falls, New York, that the budget amendment meeting scheduled for November 6, 2017 is hereby cancelled and rescheduled to take place on November 16, 2017 and the budget amendment meeting scheduled for November 8, 2017 is hereby cancelled and rescheduled to take place on November 21, 2017…”
In an online posting, former Mayor Vince Anello scoffed at Mayor Dyster’s proposed solution.
“In Niagara Falls there is plenty of stress over a proposed tax increase. What stresses me more, is the fact that this proposed tax increase would amount to an overall increase of about $2,371.724,” he wrote. “The tax increase will not even cover payroll.”
The city administration has been using about $12 million in revenue from the Seneca Niagara Casino annually in its general fund budget. The amount generated by the tax increase will not even come close to making up for that.
And make no mistake, the casino cash is not coming back anytime soon. In fact it may never come back.
Mayor Dyster said he was counting on the state for additional aid to get the city through until the issue with the Seneca is resolved. But when asked about the possibility, Gov. Andrew Cuomo laughed out loud (See related story).
In nine years, the Dyster administration burned through around a quarter of a billion dollars in casino revenue with nothing substantial to show for it. The squandering of this substantial fortune is seen as borderline criminal by many here, and his allies on City Council – Mr. Touma and Ms. Grandinetti – don’t want to be the ones who take the fall.
Their solution? Not cutting back on city expenses, not laying off city workers who form the basis of their voting block.
Their solution is to postpone the tax increase vote until after the election.
Only in Niagara Falls kids, only in Niagara Falls.