Niagara Falls residents have began to call on the state. Terri Kline grew up in Niagara Falls and then moved to North Carolina. She has since moved back and is now trying to take the city's finance problems into her own hands. Kline began an online petition one month ago which has since received over 200 signatures to establish a city control board to oversee both the mayor and city council's budget decisions.
“At the end of this day this Change.org is probably not the right way, but it's more or less bringing awareness that the residents are aware of what’s going on," Kline says.
Nearby municipalities have established control boards in the past like Buffalo and Erie County.
“Buffalo is becoming a city that people move back to, the problem we have with Niagara Falls is it’s the city where people are starting to move away from," Niagara Falls resident, Jim Szwedo, says.
City Councilman, Chris Voccio, says Niagara Falls generates around $85 million a year and spends around $95 million.
“We can’t go back to the taxpayers year after year, it’s time for fiscal restraint, fiscal discipline and to put government on a diet," Voccio said, while discussing possible solutions like raising taxes or cutting city jobs. Voccio said one of his top priorities moving forward is to renegotiate contracts with several city unions.
City lawmakers recently passed a $91 million dollar budget in November that calls for a 1.8 percent property tax increase. It also relies on $12 million from New York State to make up for lost revenue from the Seneca Niagara Casino.