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Niagara Falls credit rating drops

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Buffalo: Niagara Falls credit rating drops
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The City of Niagara Falls is facing another financial challenge after a prestigious credit agency recently dropped its credit rating. YNN's Antoinette DelBel has more on the how this will impact the city.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. - The City of Niagara Falls will have to be even more vigilant about their spending.

One of the city's three credit agencies, Moody's Investors Service, dropped the city's credit rating.

"It was downgraded from an A2 rating to a BAA1, which means we're still regarded as an investment grade, but at a lower level than we were before," said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.

Mayor Dyster said the drop in rating is due largely in part to the millions of dollars in casino revenue that the Seneca Nation of Indians owes the city.

"I can't say that I'm surprised at that,” said Dyster. “We expected that this would happen at some point."

According to the mayor, the downgrade puts the city in a bad situation when they look to borrow money for capital projects.

Interest rates to borrow money could go up on projects, such as the completion of the new train station or other projects important for tourism.

"The monies that are in the pipeline for projects now are drying up," he said. "Whatever the next project is down the line, it's going to get harder to do those capital projects if we don't have access to the bond market at a reasonable rate of interest."

The credit agency sited the city's current outstanding debt is over $73 million.

Senator George Maziarz said the city made poor decisions in past years, using the casino money for other things rather than capital projects.

"The city did exactly what they should not have done and use the casino money for their operating and maintenance expenditures," said Maziarz.

Maziarz is pushing for the city to get their share of casino funds, and said when they finally get it, he hopes the city will use it to build tourist attractions.

"People want to see a giant Ferris wheel," he said. "They want to see a zip line; they want to see a Nik Wallenda attraction.

Right now, Mayor Dyster said his main concern is the arbitration process with the Seneca Nation and getting the casino revenue owed to the city.

YNN reached out to the Seneca Nation but they said due to the process they are not able to comment.

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