Although the Niagara Falls City Council tabled their request, the Niagara Falls Block Club council may still find their $10,000 annual city taxpayer funded support cut off. Council member Sam Fruscione told the Niagara Falls Reporter that the Block Clubs will be permitted to come again before the council to prove they will spend the money they receive for the purposes intended and then the council will revisit whether their grant gets reinstated.
The Niagara Falls Block Club council has received $10,000 per year during the past several years to aid in crime prevention efforts.
The council majority tabled the grant request after it learned that some of the money was not spent on crime prevention, but on coffee, pastries, pizza, tent rentals for parties, cider, donuts, a magician and t-shirts.
“Crime prevention grants given to the block club council for crime prevention should not be spent on hot dogs and hamburgers,” said Fruscione, one of the three council member majority credited with averting the word “disaster” in the so-called “disaster” budget. The council averted Mayor Paul Dyster’s disastrous eight percent tax increase by cutting wasteful programs and eliminating public funding for entertainment.
The council majority held the line, and city taxpayers saw no tax increases this year.
“If the money is for crime prevention, it should be spent on crime prevention efforts. There is no way hot dogs keep anyone from preventing a crime,” said Fruscione.
Fruscione added that items such as flash-lights for senior citizens, alley lights and glass block windows for basement windows are appropriate expenditures.
“Hot dogs, cakes, donuts, tee shirts just don’t qualify,” he said.
“While no one on the council is against block clubs or, for that matter, anyone having a party,” Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian added, “it should not be at the taxpayer’s expense. We have to consider the taxpayer first and foremost because the taxpayer is paying for it. Our job is to see to it that the taxpayers money is not wasted - something that has been happening for a long time in Niagara Falls.”
“Block parties and t-shirts are nice community events, of course, but things like this should be sponsored by politicians out of their private cash,” said Fruscione, who in the past has funded such events personally and even offered free turkeys last Thanksgiving, out of his own pocket, to dozens of families in the city who could not afford one.
This new policy of accountability with taxpayer money by the council majority is a sea change for a city that handed out millions to various not-for-profits and favored developers, many of whom used the money for purposes far different than what they promised.