Falls Mayor Threatens to Cut Off Fire Services to Downtown Casino

September 11, 2012 Updated Sep 11, 2012 at 11:29 PM EDT

By Allen Leight

September 11, 2012 Updated Sep 11, 2012 at 11:29 PM EDT

NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WKBW) - The on-going dispute between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York State over casino gaming is putting the squeeze on Niagara Falls, which faces a multi-million dollar budget deficit next year.

The Seneca Nation, which operates the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, has not made revenue payments to the state in years. Money that is distributed to casino host cities like Niagara Falls.

"By our count the city is owned nearly $60 million dollars," says Mayor Dyster.

Facing the prospect of layoffs to city workers, including firefighters, Mayor Dyster threatened to cut-off fire protection services to the downtown casino until the city is paid the money it is owed.

"How could I go and tell my fire department, 'oh you've got to take layoffs', before I had exhausted every possible option available, including the
question the services of the fire department to make sure we get paid," said Dyster.

The Seneca Nation, which declined to comment on Dyster's comments, says the state violated their exclusive gaming compact by allowing slot machines at racetracks throughout the state.

Mayor Dyster says he is in constant contact with the governor's office, pushing to get an agreement made between the state and Seneca Nation so that city can avoid making painful cuts in the upcoming budget.

The mayor has until October 1 to submit a budget proposal for 2013 to the city council.