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Payment for hosting video lottery allows city to cut debt and make improvements

The city will get new sidewalks, public works equipment and pay off some debt as a result of being a host city to video lottery terminals and the thousands who play them about a mile from City Hall.

A March 31 aid payment of $284,000 for hosting the terminals enabled the City Council on Monday to pay $161,000 in bond anticipation notes for a new roof at the Public Works garage and the purchase of a Zamboni for the city-owned Fattei Ice Arena. The city also was able to put $50,000 in a Capital Sidewalks Reconstruction Reserve Fund, and $70,000 in a similar fund for Department of Public Works vehicles and equipment.

The money comes from the Batavia Downs Casino and its 600 "slot-like" machines as well as off-track and intertrack wagering.

The annual payments are not affected by a dispute between the state and the Seneca Nation of Indians over a gambling exclusivity compact that permitted the nation to open three Vegas-type casinos in Western New York. The nation has been withholding payment to the state, which then distributes casino profits to the host cities of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca.

The payments made by the state to Batavia are "assistance to an eligible city in which a video lottery gaming facility is located."

The Council also authorized a budget transfer of $251,637 from a reserve fund to pay for a new collective bargaining agreement with police. The city and the Police Benevolent Association, after lengthy negotiations, approved a new contract in February that provides a 2.2 percent retroactive settlement and a $1,000 payment in lieu of a wage increase for the fiscal year that began April 1.