NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - Who's to blame for holding up millions in much-needed casino revenue in Niagara Falls?
On Tuesday, Mayor Paul Dyster raised eyebrows during a 9/11 ceremony when he dug into the Seneca Nation of Indians over the holdup and suggested that should a fire happen at their casino, their may not be fire protection available for those who won't pay up. But the Senecas contend it is the state who is holding all the cards.
The cash-conundrum in the Cataract City is only getting worse. Mayor Dyster says it is the Senecas fault for withholding millions of dollars due to the state.
"They're not keeping up their part of the social compact," he argued.
The situation is so dire, Mayor Dyster said he may have to layoff firefighters to save money.
Mayor Dyster said, "How could I lay off and ask them to respond to a fire at the Seneca Hotel without having taken some sort of dramatic step somewhere along the line to make sure that they pay?"
The Senecas had no comment about the mayor's tough talk. In the meantime, the Seneca Nation says the state should pay the money that's owed to the City of Niagara Falls. A Seneca spokesperson told News 4 that the state just chooses not to.
We went to the New York officials on Wednesday, pushing for some answers.
Senior Vice President for Regional Economic Development Sam Hoyt said, "Ultimately, we anticipate that the payment due, the amount of money due to not only Niagara Falls but the two other host communities, will be paid."
Hoyt continued, "I think the state of New York is negotiating in good faith."
In other words, the state won't be paying Niagara Falls until the Senecas pay the state - and the Senecas aren't paying anytime soon.
Hoyt is supporting Mayor Dyster, who may halt first response efforts at the Seneca Hotel should a fire take place.
We won't know just how big the budget gap will be until Dyster makes his budget presentation on October 1st.
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