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Niagara Falls cuts youth programs for the year

Posted at 3:07 PM, Jun 15, 2020

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — Casey Costanzo’s sons Maddox and Sabastian are constantly on the go. So, she’s hoping to get them involved in some summer activities.

“Kids just need to be outside, and interact with other kids. It’s hard,” she said.

But, Niagara Falls parents like Costanzo, won’t be relying on the City for those services.

The City is keeping municipal pools closed and it’s canceling all youth programs for the remainder of the year. That includes things like youth yoga, arts and crafts, and youth basketball.

Mayor Robert Restaino said the decision boils down to money. The COVID-19 shutdown has created a multi-million dollar deficit for the Cataract City.

“The programs will save several hundred thousand dollars. But, obviously are problem is much larger than that. So, we’ll be taking other steps to bridge that gap,” Restaino said.

Restaino said the city initially tried to solve the budget shortfall by essentially borrowing money from its unions.

“We were asking all units to take a uniform pay cut and once the federal relief arrived, they would be made whole.”

Jason Cafarella represents the fire union within Niagara Falls. He said his union has already made recent concessions. In 2019, officers agreed to a two-year 10 percent reduction in pay. He said Mayor Restaino requested a 15 percent cut, which would have made it a 25 percent pay cut for a dangerous profession during a pandemic.

The city said a non-profit may be willing to help run the youth summer programs. But, nothing has been finalized.