Carl Paladino
Opinion

GUEST VIEW: Who’s standing up for Niagara Falls taxpayers?

By Carl Paladino

Last week, Fitch Ratings reduced the City of Niagara Falls Credit Rating to a level just above junk bond status which in turn will increase the city’s cost of borrowing.

Niagara Falls’ real estate taxes are absurd. Its payroll far exceeds that of comparatively sized cities. It doesn’t have a public safety problem that couldn’t be solved with some discipline and supervision. Friends and family members get jobs. Many high-paid employees don’t even live in the city. The city is sick, and no one complains.

The city suffers from a bloated budget due to its historically reckless, wasteful and irresponsible tax-and-spend governments including its pathetic patronage. The city also suffers from the failure of Andrew Cuomo to properly extend the New York State Gaming Compact and its revenue-sharing agreement with the Senecas so as to pay for city services burdened by the presence of the bloodsucking casinos. So why hasn’t the city shut down those services?

Cuomo’s cronies actually forgot to renew the Seneca’s fees. Has the responsible attorney been fired? Sued? Who made that costly mistake? Why is Cuomo hiding this from the public? Why isn’t Cuomo paying the city for his mistake?

Now, again those same weak elected officials afraid of offending Cuomo and the Senecas, have allowed the Senecas, without substantive complaint or opposition, to build a super gas station on tribal lands that will ultimately destroy 11 or so small gas station operators who cannot compete with the tax-free gas sold at Seneca One Stop. How is it that a gas station qualifies as “casino related?”

What’s next for this dying city? Will the Senecas build a tax-free retail mall? The incestuous, incompetent and dirty politics of Niagara Falls has for decades crippled its development.

How bad is the development atmosphere in Niagara Falls? The new 128-room, $35 million Hyatt Place hotel (incredibly $273,000/room) was built with a $3.85 million special grant from the state. The developer argued that “but for” the special subsidy, the hotel could not be built. In other words, free market forces were so bad that a private developer would not take the risk without state money. With reckless disregard for the struggling taxpaying hotels in Niagara Falls, which had no access to special subsidies from the state, Andrew Cuomo subsidized a new competitor to enter a difficult and highly competitive market to unfairly compete. Why? It’s election time.

The city’s gutless elected officials are eating at the public trough as though it is an entitlement while Cuomo and the Senecas pillage the taxpayers.

You can’t make this stuff up. Wake up, Niagara Falls.

Developer Carl Paladino owns the Giacomo hotel amongst other properties in Niagara Falls.


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News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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  • From a view ten miles out, Carl is right. The city is broken. But his reasons for why it’s in the state it’s in, were a hundred years in the making. Carl is an egocentric developer and can only see the city’s problems through the lens of someone who believes everybody’s got their hand in his wallet. The blame shouldn’t rest with the current governor, but rather with the last dozen or so governors. I don’t have to tell any of you who reside that historically, Niagara Falls put all of its economic eggs in one basket: Manufacturing. And they made some pretty nasty stuff. It was then dumped into the ground, the water and air. The liabilities of breaking ground and building anything in Niagara Falls is too great for most developers. All of what should be postcard-perfect waterfront is filled up with what is left of manufacturing and the rest rusts. Jobs of decent paying wages are so few that most young people leave and anybody who owns real estate cannot sell because the town is in such awful shape and suffers from high crime. Where does that leave home owners who can’t sell? They rent and pay property tax rates that are five times or higher the national average. Most of those money and tax generating businesses you see in the Niagara area are not zoned inside the city limits. If you pull up a map of the city of Niagara Falls, you’ll find that there are so few businesses within those borders that the city cannot generate enough revenue from tax rolls, so city services run thin. Every pothole has a dollar amount attached to it.
    Niagara Falls’ ills run deep and wide. They are not something one governor can fix with the stroke of a pen on a casino contract, although it would sure help right about now. It’s going to take years, it’s going to take talented people of which Niagara Falls has none, and it’s going to take positive, creative people with drive. Not Carl’s complaints (who exactly is he complaining to?).
    You know that chalkboard that was put up over the giant doors on the old fire station on Highland and College? It said something like, “What I want for my city”, followed by some blank spaces where you could fill in what you hope to see for Niagara Falls someday. I wanted so badly to go up there and write the words, “To be better than Baghdad”.

  • Well said Carl. Niagara Falls like many fine American cities lacks some of the strong, honest leadership needed to solve its problems. I think many good people remain in Niagara Falls. Those good people must step up and provide that leadership.

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