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Mayor finds no answers in Albany

Mayor Jeffrey L. Pond went to Albany on Tuesday to meet with state officials about the unresolved issues over Gaming Compact revenues due the city and came back without definite answers.

"For 2009 and 2010, the city's share as a host community is over $9.5 million," said Pond, "and I'm doing everything I can to keep that fact in front of our state officials."

The Seneca Nation of Indians has withheld two years of casino revenue from casino host communities in Salamanca, Niagara Falls and Buffalo after reaching a stalemate over issues with the state.

As result, the revenue loss forced the city to lay off nearly 50 workers last fall and to make other drastic budget cuts, including shutting off the lights at exits 20 and 21 of I-86. The exits provide access to Route 219 north to Buffalo and Holiday Valley, through the city.

City Attorney Ross Peters accompanied the mayor to Albany.

Pond offered insight on the meeting.

"We met with representatives of Gov. [Andrew M.] Cuomo and Sen. Cathy Young [R-Olean] and Assemblyman Joseph Giglio [R-Gowanda]. They are all strong advocates for the city, and that was confirmed again in meetings."

"We were able to provide them with updates on how this fiscal crisis continues to impact the city's operations, effectiveness and its ability to provide the services that our public demands," Pond added. "Perhaps most importantly, these meetings gave us the chance to explain how dire the fiscal crisis is today and what it will mean as we develop the city budget over the next several weeks."

The city had scheduled several budget sessions for this week but canceled them after Pond went to Albany. None of them have been rescheduled in hopes a solution will soon be forthcoming.

Pond said he is seeking to discuss the situation with federal officials.

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