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Fri., Aug. 22
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St. Lawrence County not told of loan possibility

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CANTON — The offer of a state loan for communities waiting for unpaid tribal compact money has not reached St. Lawrence County.

“The state hasn’t offered us any money,” Legislative Chairwoman Sallie A. Brothers, D-Norfolk, said.

The Buffalo News reported that the state may give Niagara Falls a loan to relieve financial pressure from a $58 million nonpayment of Seneca casino money. Like St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, some communities in the Western part of the state are struggling with the loss of tribal compact money because of a dispute over gaming exclusivity. Salamanca, home to Seneca Allegany Casino, fired more than 60 percent of its employees and is asking for its second no-interest loan from the state to get through next year, the newspaper reported.

“You can’t just kill a revenue stream like that and not expect long-range repercussions,” Mrs. Brothers said.

More than $12 million for years past is owed St. Lawrence and Franklin counties and the towns of Massena, Brasher, Bombay and Fort Covington. St. Lawrence, which will begin its budget review Monday, has projected a tax increase for next year of up to 18.5 percent although not all of that is tied to the gaming dispute.

Regardless, a state loan was not offered. State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said Wednesday she was unaware of the loan reportedly made to Niagara Falls.

Mrs. Brothers questioned whether a loan from the state for money it owed north country communities was the best solution as it would have to be repaid.

“It’s certainly a different stand. That would be something we’d have to look at very carefully,” she said. “Why isn’t this simply the state providing us the money and going after the Mohawks?”

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