ALBANY - A $5 million no-interest loan has been included in the final state budget for Salamanca, allowing the city to fill a gaping hole in its finances.
Salamanca had been experiencing dire fiscal stress and was at risk of not being able to pay its bills, as casino revenues from the Seneca Nation of Indians have been withheld since 2009 due to the gaming compact dispute between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York state. A three-member panel led by Judith Kaye, former state Court of Appeals chief justice, has been charged with settling the disagreement through arbitration, according to state Sen. Catharine Young, R-C-I-Olean.
"This is tremendous news for the residents of Salamanca, and should allay many of the city's worries. Not only will this money provide what is needed for Salamanca's current fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2013, but it also will allow local officials to plan the coming year's budget. We are grateful for Gov. Cuomo's support in reaching this solution," she said.
The financial relief will come in the form of a zero-interest loan that will be repaid to the state when the a resolution is reached between the state and the nation. Half of the total, $2.5 million, will offset the present budget crisis, and the remaining $2.5 million will be set aside for next year.
Last year, Salamanca received $2.5 million in emergency state funding, also as a loan, to help close a similar budget shortfall.
"It was welcome news that Gov. Cuomo included language in his 30-day amendments that would have provided $2.5 million for the city's current fiscal year. However, the Senate recognized that Salamanca needed to adequately plan and prepare for the upcoming year, and we successfully pushed during budget negotiations for the two-year allocation to solve that problem," Young said. "Any municipality in the state would be in trouble if 40 percent of its budget revenues went away. Salamanca's fiscal health remains a priority and it is great that the governor and the Assembly worked with us for a positive result."
"I am pleased to have worked with Sen. Young in securing this necessary funding for the city of Salamanca," said Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda. "The taxpayers of Salamanca should not be forced to foot the bill for critical operating needs of the city because of an ongoing arbitration process. If revitalizing our economy and suspending the growth of property taxes are the goal line, then I consider this a huge first down. Hopefully the arbitration process will produce an outcome acceptable to all involved parties."
Young also said she is pleased that the state and nation are engaged in an arbitration process to resolve their differences.
"Hopefully, a decision will be reached soon. Everyone agrees that economic revitalization and growth are top issues, and I look forward to working with both sides to develop more opportunities and prosperity in our region," Young said.