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Falls Council exerts power with budget cuts

The budget ax is one of the sharpest tools the Niagara Falls City Council has to show its displeasure. And it typically wields it.

Recent years have seen the otherwise banal budget season heat up when it comes to mayoral appointees.

This year, the pressure is on City Administrator Donna D. Owens and Economic Development Director Peter F. Kay. The Council voted last month to cut Owens' salary and to eliminate Kay's job completely.

Dyster then vetoed those decisions. A six-page letter from Dyster to the City Council explaining his vetoes is posted on the city's Web site.

Here's a run down of other city jobs targeted in recent years:

2008: Council voted to eliminate job of Senior Planner Thomas DeSantis. Dyster vetoed the decision. The job was saved.

2006: Council voted to eliminate several jobs, including youth associate director, city forester and a second secretary for the mayor. The Council also reduced the salary of then-Corporation Counsel Damon DeCastro. Mayor Vince V. Anello vetoed the cuts, but the Council overrode the vetoes. The budget cuts remained in place.

2005: Council voted to eliminate nearly a dozen of Anello's appointees, including Risk Manager Renae Kimble and Grants Writer Paul Colangelo. The Council overrode Anello's vetoes of the job cuts.

2004: Council nixed proposed salary increases for then-City Administrator Daniel Bristol and then-Fire Chief Richard L. Horn.

And the list goes on.

The 2009 Council will have its final say today. A special Council meeting is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. in City Hall to finalize the budget and to act on Dyster's vetoes. Four votes are needed to override a mayoral veto.

 -- Denise Jewell Gee

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government | Niagara Falls
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