Earlier this week, the state of New York transferred $5 million to the city of Niagara Falls to help alleviate cash flow issues.

It is part of the $12.3 million the governor promised the city in September 2018. The shortfall comes as the Seneca Nation of Indians has refused, now for more than two years, to pay a portion of its slot machine revenue to the state in exchange for gaming exclusivity.

The Senecas argued it’s obligation is up under a compact with the state but an arbitration panel ruled that was not the case. They now want a federal judge to vacate that ruling.

“Fair is fair. The arbitrators said they owe the state of New York at the time $225 million. The meter is still running. Those numbers are only going up,” Hochul said.

Once the state receives funds from the Nation, it shares them with the three cities where the casinos are located, Buffalo, Salamanca and Niagara Falls. Hochul said Buffalo and Salamanca could potentially see advances come their way as well.

“Certainly conversations are ongoing,” she said. “We don’t want to leave any of these communities hanging and Niagara Falls was particularly hard hit.”

Hochul said the $12.3 promised to Niagara Falls was to be transferred as needed at the city’s request. There’s no timetable on when the city might get the remaining $7.3 million and that will be allocated “upon conference with the city comptroller, the state comptroller and others.”

“We have to get this resolved,” Hochul said. “I don’t have an answer right now in terms of a timing because this has to happen as soon as possible and we are doing everything we can as an administration to force that to occur.”

The Seneca Nation has indicated it has no plans to make payments while the litigation is ongoing. It has also asked the Department of Interior to review if the arbitration panel made an illegal amendment to the compact in its judgement.