Why WE need better NF Water Board answers

On November 27, 2018, I submitted a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the Niagara Falls Water Board. The full document is viewable here and it was covered in this Niagara Gazette article.

News of a Water Board rate increase has first publicized durning the Thanksgiving holiday. I think was was a deliberate decision. More importantly, I know we can do better.

I am part of a team that creates a public budget every year. We hold neighborhood workshops to engage the public, create online options to participate, have an official public hearing, a pizza party (seriously) to go over the plan in an informal setting, a 30-day public comment period, and a presentation to the Niagara Falls City Council before the budget is voted on. We take the time and put forth the effort to be transparent and to ask for input because this is YOUR money.

Public comment is not a formality or a box to check. When you ask citizens for their ideas, instead of forcing them to react quickly to bad or hidden news, spending plans are actually get stronger. The public trust is also strengthened in the process.

The Niagara Falls Water Board’s way of budgeting has always bothered me as an advocate for participatory budgeting. I have a responsibility to speak out about it as a mayoral candidate. The Mayor of the City of Niagara Falls makes an appointment to the Niagara Falls Water Board. The Water Board’s rate payers are the citizens of our city.

Any mayoral candidate needs to have a clear position on how the Niagara Falls Water Board operates, on the record. It is an important issue to our residents and will be a part of this campaign. That’s why I submitted the FOIL request. I do not know when a response will be sent back to me, but as always, I will keep you all informed. Thank you.-Seth.

Seth Piccirillo