SALAMANCA, N.Y. (WIVB)- “Hey Governor , you owe us $15 million. Please put your money where your mouth is,” said Salamanca Mayor Michael “Smitty” Smith on Monday, as he lamented the condition of the state owned thoroughfares running through his city.
15 million dollars reflects the amount Salamanca is now owed from New York State in casino revenue sharing from the Seneca Allegany Casino. Not only has the City been waiting for two and a half years for some revenue, but in that time the condition of State roads like 219 and 417 have also been severely neglected according to Mayor Smith.
Smith believes it’s political payback to the Senecas for withholding court-ordered payments to the state. “I don’t want to put it this way, but I’ve actually, after three years of being the mayor, my frustration shows a little bit. I think the Governor’s racist side is showing and I will stand behind that quote. This is completely an issue with the Seneca Nation of Indians.”
The entire city of Salamanca lies on Seneca territory. Only 23% of the landowners pay property taxes, so that $15 million in revenue is critical.
“That would pay for this whole road,” according to Randy Gebauer, one of the residents who has watched the cars bump over patched potholes on Central Avenue. “I’ve watched it tear the front wheel off a little Lexus. I watched it rip the left front tire, the drive shaft right out of it.”
Just outside of the Salamanca city limits, the New York State Department of Transportation is rebuilding Route 219, but inside the city limits, all the DOT did was stripe over patched potholes a few weeks ago, according to Mayor Smith. “Now I’m from a farm. You ever put lipstick on a pig. they just did.”
Mayor Smith admits the City receives $98-thousand from the state each year to plow, sand and maintain this road, but he says properly fixing it is the state’s responsibility. News 4 contacted the NYSDOT last Thursday for a comment. A spokesman asked what our deadline was, but the office never replied with a statement.
“It’s been like this for probably four or five years now. It’s been terrible,” said Robin Freaney, a resident of nearby great Valley. “I think that was ridiculous (that the state striped Route 219). There’s no reason, it’s just potholes.”