TOMPKINS ASKS THE $12 MILLION QUESTION: Where is the $12.3 Million Promised by Cuomo?

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By: Nicholas D. D’Angelo

Although the landmark status vote overshadowed much of the City Council Meeting, equally important, as well as troubling, was confirmation from the City Controller, Daniel Morello, that Niagara Falls would run out of cash by July. 

Councilman Ken Tompkins kicked off discussion on the $12.3 Million promised by Governor Cuomo to aid the 2019 budget.  

Mayor Paul Dyster responded directly, stating, “we have been in discussions with the State. What we are basically trying to do now is ascertain how things are going to line up. We don’t want it to go through advanced payment if we don’t have to.”

Dyster’s response was not satisfactory for Council Chairman Andrew Touma, though. 

“Our residents are affected by this,” said Touma. “We need to know what the time frame is. We are going to be starting to work on the 2020 budget. It is hindering our decision making on capital projects which is causing us to hold back on certain things.”

Councilman Tompkins questioned Dyster, asking “but I thought [the State] guaranteed the money?” To which Mayor Dyster responded, “yes but considering all of the work that’s required to do that advanced payment you just assume not do that until public money is spent.”

The state asks periodically for updates on the city’s cash flow analysis, according to Dyster. The analysis, as shared by City Controller Morello, caused confusion among many watching in the council chambers as it made abundantly clear how financially stressed Niagara Falls already was in 2019.  

Morello provided the council with documentation showing that the City averages $7.5 Million of cash disbursements on a monthly basis. Information was also provided showing that the city takes in $3.8 Million in revenue each month between the summer months of June and September. 

Given the gap between expenses and revenue experienced on a monthly basis, the City Controller stated “there is a deficit built into the cash flow analysis.”

“Where we are at currently, and projecting forward, we will, in my estimation, begin to have some cash flow issues in July,” said Morello. 

Capital projects and paving roads were mentioned as two of the biggest efforts that will be impacted by the shortfall of money. 

“It’s a problem,” said Chairman Touma, “and it isn’t going anywhere.” 

 

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