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Unleashed casino revenue to replenish city coffers

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While the City of Niagara Falls received much of the attention when the casino revenue sharing deal was announced last week, the City of Buffalo will also benefit.

Now that the state and the Seneca Nation of Indians have settled their differences, Buffalo will be getting $15.5 million in past due revenue from the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino. Out of that amount, Mayor Byron Brown says $12 million will be used to replenish the city's fund balance.     

"While we don't look at it as a windfall, it does put the city in a much stronger fiscal position, giving us some revenue that is a little greater than was originally anticipated," Brown says.

The unanticipated $3.5 million, Brown says, will go into the general fund.

"We're going to take the time to really study the usage and utilize the money in an intelligent way for the residents and taxpayers of the city," Brown adds.

Common Council President Richard Fontana points out, unlike other municipalities, there is no restriction on how the city can spend its casino payments.

"We could use it for operations, maintenance, rainy-day fund replenishment. [There are] all kinds of different things we could use it for. The rainy-day fund wouldn't be depleted, of course. We're not using that, but it would go a long way to help if we ever did," Fontana says.

Going forward, Mayor Brown says the city's casino revenue sharing payments are expected to total more than $5 million annually.