The Dispute Between the Seneca Nation and New York May Cause Niagara Falls to Run Out of Money

According to an audit by a state office, there is a dispute that will cause Niagara Falls to run out of money by the year’s end. The audit was recently issued by the New York Comptroller’s Office and revealed the current dispute involving the Seneca Nation of Indians will cause Niagara Falls severe financial issues by the end of the year. The dispute concerns the casino revenue once paid to hosting cities by the Seneca Nation.

Approximately $9 million has been received by Niagara Falls every year since 2014. The money was from the revenue of the casinos and meant to fix the gaps in the budget. An additional $2.9 million was spent by the city to try and balance the budget. In a seventeen-page audit report recently released by the auditors, they stated the impasse with the Seneca Nation of Indians was causing serious financial difficulties. They did not know if Niagara Falls would receive any casino revenue in the future. They believe it is critical for the officials of the city to act immediately, so the fiscal problems of the city can be addressed.

Mayor Paul A. Dyster made a statement earlier in the month. He said it is clear the city of Niagara Falls is in a different position financially than they were the last time payments by the Seneca Nation of Indians were suspended. These payments are required under the New York state compact. He believes their current reserves will adequately cover the length of this dispute.

The estimation of the auditors is Niagara Falls will still have roughly $11 million left in casino funds when 2017 ends. This figure is if no more money is received from the Seneca Nation. If the dispute is not settled, by the end of the next year, Niagara Falls will be extremely close to completely running out of money.

As the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo has taken the steps he believes will lead to the solution. To resolve the dispute of the Seneca Nation of Indians, the Governor is demanding a binding arbitration. According to the attorneys representing New York, a demand for arbitration was filed earlier in the month. The attorneys have stated the Seneca Nation of Indians has breached the compact.

More than $1.5 billion has been shared by the tribe just during the last several years. The decision made by the Seneca Nation of Indians to discontinue all payments to the state from the casinos is damaging the economy of Albany as well. Approximately $110 million per year is received by Albany, and then the money is distributed to host communities. The compact was signed by the Seneca Nation of Indians in 2002. The officials of the tribe believe their actions do not breach the terms of the compact. According to the compact, the tribe was required to share 25 percent of all revenue made from all three casinos until the year 2016 ended.