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DEC 09 - DEC 17, 2014

Virtuoso Cries Foul on Casino Windfall

By Tony Farina

December 09, 2014

County Legislator Dennis Virtuoso would rather see the county’s share of casino money go to tax reduction rather than pork for Republicans.

You may have to read the fine print to see where possibly as much as $1 million in casino cash will be distributed by the Niagara County Legislature at tonight's (Tuesday) meeting.

Democratic Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso said Monday night he and his caucus have been blindsided by the Republican majority (11 – 4) on the county receiving the casino cash under a new state law that makes available money from the host casino (Niagara Falls) in the district to surrounding municipalities with very few strings attached.

"We didn't see it in the budget," said Virtuoso, "and we believe the majority plans on carving it up as pork for their members, and we only found out about it from the county treasurer."

"Not so," says Majority Leader Rick Updegrove. "We are going by what's in the state law," adding Republicans plan to use the money to create two separate funds: a Niagara County Tax Relief Fund distributed to the 14 municipalities on a per capita formula and a smaller Community Development Fund.

Updegrove said at this point he isn't even sure how much money is involved, but the GOP resolution will be presented tomorrow night as will a resolution from Democrats which would earmark the casino cash entirely for tax relief for county residents, bringing the tax increase down to one percent from three percent.

Sparks will likely fly at tonight's (Tuesday) session as party warfare will likely be at a high-pitched level as each side tries to make their case for use of the newly-.found casino windfall. Expect Republicans to win as they have the votes, but with Democrats Virtuoso and Jason Zona crying foul, you can also expect a rousing political fight for all to see. Will the taxpayers win? Stay tuned.





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Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
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