Putting brakes on spending

Dunkirk Common Council members did something unusual last Tuesday: they decided against spending money.

By a 4-0 vote, elected representatives went against transferring $50,000 from the city coffers to the Dunkirk Local Development Corp. to make a payment on lakefront property. The land, located at 18 Lake Shore Drive West, was purchased by the DLDC in 2010 at the inflated rate of $525,000.

Needless to say, the DLDC is broke. It serves no purpose, just like the city’s development department.

In voting “no” on the resolution, council member Stacy Szukala made some excellent points. “With the long list of items that we have to do in the city, including our fire halls needing work; a dredging grant that we need to match funds for; equipment in (Department of Public Works); a seawall to pay for as well as aging infrastructure with 58 water breaks this year, I think our priorities need to be elsewhere rather than the vacant piece of property to yet again bail out the DLDC,” she said. “I think they were given ample time to do what they needed to do.”

Obviously, council’s action has put the property in limbo. But so what? There are a whole lot of other items in limbo in this city as well. Generous contracts have expired with some city unions. Roads still needing repairs. Empty storefronts dotting the downtown. Population and home values declining.

This high-cost property almost mirrors Dunkirk government. When the parcel of land was purchased, hardly anybody complained about the price. When the city approves a budget of $22 million, hardly anybody complains about the price.

Stephanie Kiyak resigned earlier this month as council member at-large due to mounting frustrations with the spending of money and a lack of accountability. Her former colleagues seemed to have picked up on her message.

Better late than never.