Proposed Kennedy Resolution Backfires as House of Representatives Allocate $171 Million to Niagara Falls

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By: Staff Reporter

If the City of Niagara Falls was not in a financial hole prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials definitely do now.

However, optimism of public officials were given a boost after the HEROES ACT was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives over a week ago that allocated $171 million to Niagara Falls.

“I am thrilled that our representatives in the federal government fought for us,” said Councilman Andrew Touma during a City Council meeting on Wednesday, May 20th, 2020.

 

City Councilman Andrew Touma

 

Although it is positive the money was allocated by the House of Representatives, that in no way means it will be there when and if something is passed by the U.S. Senate.

“The problem,” said Touma, “is that we don’t know if we will get anything or, if we do get it, when we will get it.”

Requesting funding from the federal government due to lost revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic is a topic that had been a fiercely debated during the prior council meeting.

Two weeks prior, Councilman Bill Kennedy had proposed a walk-on resolution asking the Federal Government for $24 million. No other councilman, republican or democrat, supported the resolution and, after the motion was made to add it to the agenda, it didn’t even receive a ‘second.’

 

Niagara Falls City Councilman Bill Kennedy

 

According to an unnamed council member, Councilman Kennedy was made aware prior to the meeting that it had no support but he decided to do so anyway as a “publicity stunt.”

It was at this point Kennedy blasted his fellow lawmakers, stating, “I have a hard time believing that you guys fell as though the timing of this isn’t right. I cannot comprehend on any level, politics or not . . . you guys say you care, but you won’t even take a look at this. This shows me that you don’t want to work.”

Within days of the council meeting the House passed the HEROES ACT allocating the $171 million to Niagara Falls. In that respect, it did turn out to be bad timing on Kennedy’s part.

“There’s no question we would have shortchanged ourselves through miscalculation and, to me, would have misrepresented our residents by lowballing the amount of money that our representatives were fighting for,” said Councilman Touma.

In a stark change from the previous administration, this Mayor and City Council did not set themselves up to fail by submitting a resolution that requested $147 million less than what the House of Representatives allocated to Niagara Falls in their bill.

“Luckily,” said Touma, “we slow-walked this resolution to send to the federal government with regard to asking for a certain amount of money. The House of Representatives . . . allocated $171 million to Niagara Falls. This means the amount of money that they granted was about seven times what we would have asked for in [Councilman Kennedy’s] resolution.”

 

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