NIAGARA FALLS – For the second time this month, Mayor Paul A. Dyster will delay the presentation of the city’s 2013 budget.
Dyster said Friday that he would not present the budget to the City Council Monday, as he was expected to do.
“We don’t want a fast budget,” he said in a statement. “We want a good budget – or at least the best possible budget under some very unique and challenging circumstances.”
Dyster gave the same reasoning when he delayed the budget presentation nearly two weeks ago. He was originally slated to present the budget Oct. 1.
The mayor has termed the document a “disaster budget” that attempts to close a $10 million budget gap created in part by $58 million in Seneca Niagara Casino slot revenues that have been withheld from the city.
City workers have labored under the specter of layoffs for more than a month, and while the mayor has offered no specifics on whether layoffs will be necessary, the statement Friday said Dyster was committed to “minimizing as much as possible the negative impacts to city residents and employees.”
The announcement came near the close of business Friday, and Council Chairman Sam Fruscione appeared frustrated at the delay.
“We’re on the outside looking in at this point,” Fruscione said. “We don’t know what they’re doing.”
The Council has not been invited to assist the administration in the budget process, a move that Dyster made in years past to limit the number of amendments from the Council. The move is not mandated by the city charter, Dyster said.
The administration did not invite the Council to review the budget this year because of the sensitivity of the situation, Dyster has said, and because the Council regularly made amendments to the budget anyway.
Fruscione speculated that Dyster had delayed the budget presentation while waiting for a loan from the state, which he called a “pipe dream” that was unlikely to materialize. Assemblyman John D. Ceretto has suggested that the state is open to such a loan and is working toward that end. No party has explained how the city would repay such a loan.
“When we really need him to do his job, he can’t do it,” Fruscione said of Dyster. “He’s not performing.”
Dyster disagreed.
“We’re working very hard on this,” the mayor said. “We’re not sitting around doing nothing. We want the best possible budget for our citizens.”
Fruscione went so far as to suggest the Council might hire its own lawyer to file an Article 78 proceeding against Dyster to find him in violation of the city charter. The charter calls for the mayor to present the budget by Oct. 1, Dyster has acknowledged.
The Council has canceled all public hearings related to the budget, Fruscione said, until it is presented by the mayor. The hearings were originally scheduled for later this month.
After the mayor presents the budget, the Council has until Dec. 1 to make revisions and submit the final document.
The city last presented a late budget in 2001.