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North Tonawanda anticipating windfall of casino cash over the next two years

NORTH TONAWANDA – Under a new agreement, casino cash will now be flowing into the city of North Tonawanda’s coffers this year and next.

The Common Council has been told to expect up to $200,000 for special projects over the two years.

The only decision will be how to spend it.

Niagara County Legislators Randy R. Brandt and Richard L. Andres, who both represent voters in North Tonawanda, gave the good news to the City Council during this week’s work session.

Andres said the casino money, which had long flowed only to the city of Niagara Falls and the state, will now also go to Niagara County.

“The county used to get a portion, but somewhere along the line, Niagara Falls got all of it,” he said.

Andres said the Niagara County Legislature plans to divide up $523,665 in 2014 casino funds, which is 75 percent of the money it will receive. The money is its new tax-relief fund. The money will only go to communities outside of Niagara Falls, since Niagara Falls already receives its own dedicated funding. The additional 25 percent of county casino money will be used for community development projects.

The division is based on population and North Tonawanda will receive the largest share, 18.9 percent, or $99,419 in 2015 and likely the same amount in 2016, Andres said

“If we spent that money on countywide projects, then it would include Niagara Falls,” said Andres of the decision to directly grant the largest portion of money to communities.

The one caveat Andres offered the Council was that it should not use the money as part of the annual budget, but rather for special projects to beautify the city.

He asked Council members to not sit on the money, but put it to good use to benefit the city.

“Let’s make this area stand out,” Andres said. “It’s something we are excited about.”

Brandt and Andres said the money should be available by September, but they hope to be able to get it to the city even sooner.

The Council also met with Michael Washington, president of Ivy Lea Construction, on a proposal to build the firm’s new headquarters on city-owned land. The site is an unused portion of the Department of Public Works property at 758 Erie Ave. at Walck Road.

The 5.1 acres of land is valued at $178,000, but Ivy Lea’s $50,000 offer was deemed fair, according to the city assessor.