NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - News 4 Senior Correspondent Rich Newberg has uncovered details about a possible deal between the state and the city of Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls faces a looming multi-million dollar budget deficit due to a cutoff of casino revenue by the Seneca Indian Nation.
One state lawmaker tells News 4 a high ranking official in Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration says discussions are still underway for the state to possibly help close the budget deficit that could be in the neighborhood of $10 million, according to initial budget draft reports. The assistance could be in the form of a no interest loan, or accelerated state aid, commonly referred to as a "spin up." The loan or spin up would be payable once casino revenue starts flowing again from the Seneca Indian Nation. The Senecas cut off slot machine revenue payments to governments after the state allowed "racino" gaming at Batavia, Hamburg, and Finger Lakes race tracks. The Senecas maintain they have exclusive rights to casino gaming under its agreement with the state. Payments stopped in 2010.
There is a concern that Hurricane Sandy's devastating impact on New York City could put Niagara Falls' budget concerns on the back burner. Mayor Paul Dyster has been extremely tight-lipped about his spending plan for the Falls, however he remains optimistic. Mayor Dyster tells News 4 "the governor's office understands the gravity of the situation and a lot of creative and intelligent people are working to find a solution to a very complex problem." He tells Newberg "we are trying to minimize the pain on a difficult budget under any circumstances."
A multi-million dollar deficit, should state help not be delivered, could lead to estimated layoffs of three hundred municipal workers in workforce of about eight hundred. Mayor Dyster is due to present his 2013 budget on Thursday, during a special session of the Niagara Falls City Council.
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