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Niagara County shows support for expanding casino gaming

BY: Rikki Cason | December 30, 2012

The Niagara County Legislature passed a resolution of support to expand casino gaming in Niagara Falls.

During the Dec 18 meeting, the resolution was unanimously passed that urges the state to enact legislation that would allow a private state gaming enterprise to come into downtown Niagara Falls.

“If Niagara County were to receive 25 percent of the slot revenue, it would eliminate all county property taxes,” said Majority leader Rick Updegrove, R-Lockport. “That is why this resolution is so important.”

During the Dec. 4 meeting, this resolution was tabled due to “sensitive” negotiations currently going on between the Seneca Nation and the state.

Niagara Falls is owed $60 million in unpaid casino profits from the Seneca Nation, who is withholding the money because they believe they have exclusivity and the state is pushing to legalize non-Indian casinos.

“The Senecas have ensured that our community bears the full weight of gambling’s social burdens while receiving none of the benefits,” said Kathryn Lance, R-Niagara Falls. “We want a more stable gaming system … and the jobs it creates.”

In other county news:

• A resolution was passed authorizing support for several upgrades to the Niagara County Community College’s Sanborn campus.

The college is working to create a Learning Commons, which would enlarge the library and add and update classrooms.

The cost of the Learning Commons project has been estimated to be $25 million.

With the passing of the resolution, the legislature has giving its support to potentially cover the local share portion of the project, $12.5 million.

According to NCCC President James P. Klyczek, though the county is giving their support, the money does not have to come from the taxpayers.

He said they could fund-raise or find other funding sources to cover the local share.

The reason for the resolution was to meet the deadline and “get in line” to get the NCCC project approved by the State University of New York system to be including in the 2013 funding request to the state.

SUNY would provide the second half of the project only after the local match has been reached.

The Sanborn campus was constructed nearly 40 years ago and studies have found they have no space for effective group study, they do not have proper space for students using technology in the classroom and the library needs to be upgraded with the shift from paper-based information to digitally-provided information.

Also, the number of students attending NCCC with children has increased and has surpassed the capabilities of the existing Child Development Center.

NCCC serves more than 7,000 students for Niagara County and the neighboring communities.

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