Anthony Restaino Says Niagara Falls Must Chart a New Course

Please click the link below to subscribe to a FREE PDF version of each print edition of the Niagara Reporter

http://eepurl.com/dnsYM9

 

 

By: Tony Farina

“Niagara Falls has to change course, become more fiscally responsible,” says the new city administrator who just happens to be the slightly older brother of new Mayor Robert Restaino.

Anthony Restaino, who retired from his high-paying job as commissioner of Niagara County Social Services, came to the city at the drastically reduced salary of $35,000, the maximum he could earn because of retirement from his state job.  

It is Anthony’s second stint as city administrator having served in the same position in the late 1990s under Mayor James Galie when the city’s financial situation was nowhere near as bad as it is now.

“The fianancial situation wasn’t as difficult back then as it is now,” said Restaino in a free-ranging interview in his city hall office where as a sign of the belt-tightening in place he shares a secretary with the mayor.

“All departments have been cut,” he said of the city’s current staffing levels, “and we need to reorganize because there was a lack of direction from the previous administration, most notably in the last half of last year.”

Restaino said the mayor continues to focus on his collaborative agenda to try and run the city more effectively and efficiently, and talks are ongoing with Niagara County economic development officials, the school district, and the housing authority.

 

Acting City Administrator Anthony Restaino.

 

“We are exploring shared services,” said Restaino, saying the city must look for ways to reduce costs and improve services and continue to wean the city from the casino cash which had become the piggy bank for city government until the end of the payments from the Senecas in 2017.  While the Senecas are under court order to resume the payments the Nation has been silent on their plans.

“We need to use that money [when or if it resumes] for what it was intended, economic development,” said Restaino, adding that at this point it is still uncertain when the slot revenue sharing will resume.

As we talked, the mayor popped in for a moment saying there’s still no sign when the Seneca money will beging flowing again although he suggested it could be late summer before that happens.

Clearly, the city would be greatly helped if the payments resume as the fiscally responsible course that Anthony Restaino envisions will certainly be helped if the casino cash payments begin again.

The city is also getting ready to issue an RFP for an energy audit later this year which Restaino said could help save on energy costs, one of the ways the city is exploring to reduce spending.

Part of the effort includes asking department heads to come up with proposals in the next few weeks for ways to make their departments more effective and efficient.

Restaino says it all adds up to making the city more fiscally responsible going forward, a major goal of the administration as it faces severe financial challenges to get the city moving again.

“We have to change course, become more fiscally responsible,” he emphasized, but he concedes there is no short-term fix to the city’s financial challenges and it will take all hands participating going forward, stressing the relationship with the new council majority has been very encouraging.

To sum up, the problems are many but the new administration is moving as quickly as it can to turn things around although admitting it won’t happen overnight.

He agreed with former Mayor Vince Anello who told this newspaper in a recent interview that the public must realize dealing with city unions as part of the new approach won’t be easy, and as Anello said, to get something from the unions will cost something.  In other words difficult negotiations are likely ahead if the city wants to reduce labor costs by adjusting labor agreements.  

But despite the challenges, Anthony Restaino and his brother the mayor seem focused and ready to take on the challenges and make Niagara Falls a great city again, although it will clearly take time and some other things to fall into place, like the slot revenue, to help make it happen.

 

**attorney advertising**

Leave a Reply

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK

https://www.facebook.com/NiagaraReporter/
 
Scroll Up.wpzoom (color:black;}