State Sen. Rob Ortt, R-C-I-North Tonawanda, unveiled a two-pronged plan called “Revitalize Niagara,” which would ensure the host city and certain entities get their fair share of casino revenue, and would allocate a portion of funds for economic development and job creation.
Ortt will introduce this plan as part of the 2015-16 budget talks, and negotiate amendments to the 99-h law, which outlines the casino funding formula determining the amount of revenue to local government. With the 99-h law set to expire at the end of 2016, coupled with the state’s estimated billion-dollar surplus following recent bank settlements, Ortt sounded a note of urgency.
“The ‘Revitalize Niagara Plan’ will adjust the formula to ensure that more of those casino dollars generated in Niagara Falls will stay in Niagara Falls,” Ortt said Tuesday. “The fiscally strained city deserves a bigger piece of the pie to strengthen key stakeholders and regain solid financial footing. Flipping the formula makes sense and should be feasible. Considering the state’s surplus, along with the dire need of jobs and support in Niagara Falls, the time is now.”
“We’ve seen how investments in Canalside from the ‘Buffalo Billion’ has revitalized Buffalo’s Inner Harbor,” Ortt said. “We need to treat the casino revenue like our ‘Buffalo Billion.’ We need to build up downtown Niagara Falls and then carry that momentum throughout the entire city, block by block, to attract more private-sector investment and tourists.
“Improvements to the immediate area surrounding the casino will have a positive ripple effect on the economy with more tourism dollars, gaming revenue, tax revenue and private development.”
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