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Proposal would up the ante on money for localities

Two state lawmakers who represent Niagara Falls have introduced legislation that would send more money generated at Seneca Nation gambling casinos to the localities where they are situated.

The proposal would amend the gaming compact between the Senecas and New York State to give localities in the Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca half the government share of casino slots revenue, instead of 25 percent.

Under terms of the compact, the Senecas keep three-quarters of casino revenue, and state and local governments split one-quarter. The state keeps three-quarters of the government share, meaning Albany gets 18.75 percent of overall casino revenue, and localities most directly impacted by the casinos receive 6.25 percent.

For years, local governments have sought a greater share, but their calls have been ignored by a state government deeply in debt.

"Local municipalities continue to bear the brunt of the cost of maintaining the infrastructure which casinos rely on. It is only fair that localities receive more funding from the casinos in order to pay for these services and upgrades while reducing the strain on local taxpayers," said Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston, who is sponsoring the new legislation with State Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo.



Comptroller making a pitch to return unclaimed funds

New Yorkers can find out at the Erie County Fair if they are owed some of the state's $10.5 billion in unclaimed funds.

Representatives from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli's office will be at the Erie County Fair daily from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

"We want to return this money to its rightful owners," DiNapoli said. "The money belongs to New Yorkers. We want to give it back."

Residents also can check for unclaimed funds at or by calling toll free (800) 221-9311.



New arts nonprofit launches search for executive director

A new nonprofit organization aimed at providing management and technical aid to Western New York arts and cultural groups is searching for an executive director.

The Arts Services Initiative of WNY was launched in July with a business plan, budget and board of directors, led by board Chairman Randy Kramer, executive director of MusicalFare Theater.

The organization is expected to provide workshops and seminars, community education campaigns and direct management assistance, including shared services and regional cultural planning.

ASI also will play a role in filling a gap in regional arts and culture coordination left by the demise of the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County, the Arts Council in Niagara County and the Arts in Education Institution of WNY.

The John R. Oishei Foundation provided $150,000 in April for the start-up costs of ASI. The Fund for the Arts will provide funding for ASI's first two years.

ASI then will be expected to rely on financial support from a variety of sources for its future operation.