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NOV 04- NOV 12, 2014

Dyster Use of Fast-Disappearing Casino Funds Shape Shifts From Economic Development to Day-to Day Expenses

By Anna M. Howard

November 04, 2014

Like it or not, these little babies - called slot machines - deliver $20 million to the city in cash every year - so how the hell do we have a deficit?


That's our acronym for Its The Waste Stupid!

Mayor Paul A. Dyster, after receiving a casino cash windfall of $89 million in 2013, has created a stunning deficit that is reportedly anywhere from $4.5- $9 million that his administration is currently working to close.

Dyster states that while the deficit does exist and that while casino cash does exist, the two items are mutually exclusive because casino cash can only be used for the support of matters of “economic development.”

He has never defined “economic development” and never produced a casino cash- spending plan either.

In other words the casino funds cannot, according to Dyster, be used to alleviate the deficit by supporting the day-to-day cost of city government.

Yet a Reporter review of casino expenses as posted on the city website shows Dyster has spent casino funds on a wide array of items many of which can hardly be called economic development and some clearly day-to-day management expenses of city hall.

Dyster supported day-to-day functions by committing casino funds: $350,000 train station “re-bid $92,495 tree removal; $42,250 police computers; $366,822 Community Development demolitions; $341,266 police narcotics squad; $210,595 nine Code Enforcement Ford Escapes; $4,480,000 train station; $250,000 Center Court Playground; $100,000 tree stump removal; $175,000 Ice Pavilion consultant/design; $100,000 Buffalo Avenue “streetscape”; $468,000 city hall parking lot; $551,600 two DPW trucks; $659,810 Carnegie Building roof repair; $2,214,499 trash totes; $1,500,000 USA Niagara Conference Center; $250,000 Memorial Medical Center stroke center; $150,000 seasonal road employees; $100,000 parking studies; $14,461 Zoom program wages; $500,000 road construction materials; $400,000 sidewalk repair; $132,700 Griffon Park parking lot; $94,500 Ice Pavilion locker room consultant; $105,000 pothole killer rental; $50,000 Buffalo Niagara Enterprise membership fee; $284,622 additional fees Modern Disposal May-Dec, 2014.

Dyster also gave casino dollars to non-profits such as $40,000 for New Jerusalem Center, $500,000 for Isaiah 61 Highland Avenue fire hall, and $150,000 to Community Missions.

The above list represents Dyster awarding casino funds to everything from non-profits to city vehicles, street maintenance, employee overtime, office equipment and support of the state-owned conference center through USA Niagara.

This listing is only a portion of the payouts of casino funds for 2014.

In addition to the above, you will see expenses for fire fighting, consulting fees and all manner of costs directly and indirectly related to day-to-day governmental operations.

If this 2014 spending record isn’t convincing, you can look back on the city website to previous years of casino cash expenditures under the Dyster administration.

In the end, Dyster’s claim that he cannot use casino funds to balance the budget doesn’t add up.

What one sees instead is a pattern of spending that leave little in tangible results either in economic development or for that matter a balanced budget.

After more than $100 million in casino money has been spent, on anything and everything, the city is facing a budget crisis and taxes will go up.

What other small city gets an extra $20 million a year and can't balance its budget?


It’s The Waste Stupid!





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