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Casino Money Would Best Be Used

To Reduce Taxes in Niagara Falls

If the casino money was used to reduce property taxes, there would be a 75 percent reduction of taxes.

The City of Niagara Falls collects around $28 million in property taxes per year.

The city has been collecting around $22 million per year in casino revenue, about 80 percent of what city property owners pay on some 25,000 properties to the city.

By law, casino money must be spent for economic development.

It is a uniquely stupid law, crafted in Albany for Niagara Falls.

It is stupid because no current city hall official was ever a successful developer or a successful private businessman who would know how to invest $20 million per year to spur economic growth.

With more than $150 million of casino money already spent, the city has little to show for it in the line of economic development. And if you want proof of this, drive around the casino for signs of spin-off development.

But, if the city made an effort to change the law to permit the city to use casino money to buy down property taxes, it would affect the entire city and its desirability. Even if the small percentage of casino money that goes to the school district and Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital is taken out, there would still be more than $20 million left.

If this was used to reduce property taxes, there could be a 75 percent reduction of taxes. This would be a better economic development measure than what the city has done so far.

According to the website of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, www.governor.ny.gov, Niagara County has the second highest property taxes in the United States when ranked as a percentage of property value. Based on a three-year average and out of 1,824 counties nationwide, a Tax Foundation study reported that Niagara County residents pay 2.83 percent of the value of their property every year in property taxes.

What is not on the governor's website but that has been suggested for the reason Niagara County ranks so high is that the City of Niagara Falls, with its high taxes and low property value, has skewed the ranking and made the whole county look bad.

In any event, as if it were not bad enough that property taxes here are about the worst in nation, the governor adds that the whole state is plagued by high taxes. His website says, "New York property taxes are out of control. The median U.S. property tax paid is $1,917 and in New York it is $3,755-96 percent higher than the national median. Moreover, New York has the highest local taxes in America as a percentage of personal income-79 percent above the national average."

If the casino money were to be used to reduce those taxes in the city by 75 percent, Niagara Falls would be so novel that it would attract the attention of people throughout the state.

It would be the only city in the entire state with low taxes.

It might make this city into a boom town.

Next year Mayor Paul Dyster, who is the owner of a homebrew supply store for people who want to make their own beer, will have a majority on the council ready to support him. They are Kristen Grandinetti and Andrew Touma, who are school teachers, and Charles Walker, who is a community health advocate for Memorial Hospital.

Imagine, the plan for the casino money is to give $20 million a year to a beer hobby supply store owner, two school teachers, and a hospital employee, and tell them go do whatever you decide and call it economic development.

Gee, that ought to work.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Nov 26, 2013