BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - When you cross the Peace Bridge, you pay a toll. But federal tax dollars are also being used to pay rent to the Public Bridge Authority.
The Peace Bridge is one of seven crossings between the U.S. and Canada where Uncle Sam pays rent to the bridge operator, in this case the Public Bridge Authority.
Peace Bridge General Manager Ron Rienas said, "We're dealing with two countries. The laws are different in both countries. It's been like that for decades."
The U.S. pays more than a million dollars a year in rent to the Public Bridge Authority for occupation and maintenance of the plaza. Canada's side is rent free, and some find that unfair.
Activist James Kane said, "I never got a good answer. I never got a good reason why we pay and they don't."
The Public Bridge Authority does give Buffalo $500,000 a year and $200,000 to the NFTA. And it will finance a new $23 million customs facility on the U.S. side.
"That's $23 million, 100 percent paid for by the Public Bridge Authority, with no expectation of getting any rent payment for that," Rienas said.
The Public Bridge Authority has been under increased scrutiny because of the ongoing dispute between officials on either side of the border. The NYS Senate and Assembly recently passed legislation to dissolve the Authority, and should Governor Andrew Cuomo sign it, the move will be legally challenged by the Canadian government.
The governor wants the U.S. Plaza expanded. Canadians who control the Public Bridge Authority don't have that as a high priority. They say a lawsuit possibly challenging the legislation may be necessary in order for the Authority to continue borrowing money for projects.
Public Bridge Authority Chairman Anthony Annunziata said, "If you don't have security in your ability to finance a project, you really can't more forward with it, so we'd like to get that stability in place. We'd like to be able to make sure we have our funding in place to move forward."
Lt. Governor Robert Duffy said Wednesday the governor hopes to resolve the issues at the bridge without litigation and that he has a year to decide whether or not to sign the legislation that could dissolve the Public Bridge Authority.
An eight-year-old boy was shot Thursday morning in Cattaraugus County. Officials are at the scene on West Road, in Leon.
There is another Lake Effect Snow Warning in effect for Erie, Wyoming, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties from Thursday through early Friday.
Lake Effect Snow Warnings return today with the chance for an additional foot for some areas.
A 26-year-old male employee of Ying's Wings and Things told police that Haibo Jiang, also known as Jimmy Ying, choked him until he passed out.
A Good Samaritan died Wednesday while trying to assist the driver of a tractor trailer who got stuck in the snow.
Viewers sent in photos from the snowfall around Western New York.