The City of Niagara Falls in New York is currently in the process of creating a worst-case scenario budget for the year ahead. The city is currently being forced to prepare this budget under the assumption that the Seneca Nation’s casino, located in the city, will continue to withhold funds in 2018. The ongoing dispute between the Seneca Nation and New York state shows no sign of coming to an end and the City of Niagara Falls is being caught in the middle.
Seneca Nation Stops Paying New York State
The Seneca Nation has been withholding payments to the state of New York since 2017. The tribe is claiming that it is under no legal obligation to continue the payments to the state, since its compact with New York expired at the end of 2016. The compact was signed in 2002 and stated that it would automatically renew for a seven-year period if there were no objections from either side. In 2009, it did so, but the Seneca nation is claiming that there was no stipulation that it would continue to do so after it ended in 2016.
The state of New York obviously strongly disagrees with this assessment and has officially said that the Seneca Nation is violating its gaming compact. New York has gone as far as delivering an 11-page demand for legally binding arbitration between the two parties. New York has said there is no logic or legal basis for the Seneca Nation to completely stop all payments, while still enjoying the benefits of the compact.
Tough Times ahead for City of Niagara Falls
The City of Niagara Falls is home to around 50 000 people. However, the city is unable to compete with its Canadian neighbour, which is more popular and prosperous. In fact, unemployment and crime are a big problem, and around 60% of the city’s residents receive some form of government help. The City of Niagara Falls also relied on the payments it received from the Seneca Nation casino to cover its budget.
However, for its 2018 budget, it is having to plan around not receiving any funds from the casino. The city did little to adjust its spending after the payments from Seneca first stopped, but it has gotten to the point now that this has to change. There is no word yet on when the matter might be rectified between New York state and the Seneca Nation, so for the time being, the City of Niagara Falls has to try and hang in there.