Council debates fiscal troubles

Dunkirk Councilwoman Abigail Yerico demanded accountability for the city’s financial problems during Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.

Councilwoman Natalie Luczkowiak later released a statement on Dunkirk’s fiscal woes that supported the administration of Mayor Kate Wdowiasz, a fellow Democrat.

“What is our plan for holding people accountable for things that have happened that have gotten us into this financial crisis?” asked Yerico, a Republican, at the council meeting. “People want to know, what are we doing to hold people accountable to ensure these things don’t happen going forward?”

Five seconds of silence followed before Wdowiasz spoke. “I don’t know who you’re directing that question to,” she said. “I mean, when everything is done – we don’t have any audits done – so when everything is done and out together, we will have answers. Until then, it’s just speculation on everything that happened.”

An audit of 2022 finances should be ready in July, she said. Auditing of the city’s 2023 finances will begin immediately after the 2022 audit is complete, the mayor added.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Luczkowiak emailed a statement on city financial affairs to the OBSERVER.

“Please know that (Wdowiasz), Council, and (City Hall) staff are conducting a thorough financial assessment in order to identify areas of inefficiency, waste, and unnecessary expenses. This is being done in collaboration with state agencies. They are offering, and we are accepting, assistance, guidance, and, of course, monetary relief.”

Luczkowiak went on, “I believe that with the setting of clear goals, priorities, and timelines for fiscal improvement, we will get through this difficult challenge.”

She commented on Yerico’s stance, “Councilmember Yerico wishes to hold people accountable, as she said tonight in a council meeting; however, right now, the mechanics and solutions are what are needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and then get to the other side of the tunnel.”

Luczkowiak discussed what the city should do to right its financial ship and closed with support for Wdowiasz.

“We will have to implement cost-saving measures, reduce expenses, and streamline operations. We will have to explore new sources of income and tax reform. We need to adopt best practices such as investing in updated financial software, which we will do this year. We need to foster economic development and support job creation. We also need to build an emergency fund.

“I am proud of our mayor, who has decided to communicate our issues openly with the residents of our city and will share the recovery plan and progress. Myself, Mayor Kate and the state will not let us fail, but it will require a structured approach, political will, and possibly community involvement.”


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