Niagara Falls Faces Shortfall

April 2, 2012 Updated Apr 2, 2012 at 8:37 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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April 2, 2012 Updated Apr 2, 2012 at 8:37 AM EDT

Niagara Falls, N.Y. (WKBW) – Niagara Falls could be facing up to a $21 million financial shortfall. The city council is now calling for a spending freeze across the board, and they will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the issue.

This freeze will put many projects on hold, including the new rail station. Niagara Falls City Comptroller Maria Brown said this freeze is a must, unless the Seneca Nation of Indians pays up.

Here’s where this financial ‘crisis’ started. When the Seneca Niagara Casino opened, the city was promised $17 million to $18 million a year from revenue. There has been a dispute with the Seneca Nation and New York State over tax issues and other gambling casinos in the area. Because of this dispute, the nation has refused to pay that money for the past three years.

The bigger problem is that the city had already figured the funds into their budget. When the money didn’t come in, officials had to dip into their reserve fund. Now, they are feeling the effects.

“We are showing a receivable on the books, but we don't have the cash. Now, revenues recorded, the bottom line looks good and healthy because you are recording revenue, however, you don't have the cash in the bank,” Comptroller Brown said.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said he is working with Seneca Nation President Robert Porter and the Governor’s Office to make sure something is done to help the city. In the meantime, spending may have to be put on hold.

The meeting about the freeze will be held this evening at 7 p.m. in Niagara Falls City Council Chambers.