Many municipalities across the state could lose thousands in aid under the proposed state budget.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday released his executive budget proposal, which eliminates funding from the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities program for towns and villages in cases where the funding accounts for less than 2 percent of the municipal budget.
Cities like Olean and Salamanca — which receive far more aid than other municipalities even with higher populations — would be unaffected, according to the released figures, but would remain at roughly the same level seen since 2011.
For local towns and villages, it’s a different story.
The cuts, while in small amounts for many municipalities, add up to $852,501 across the two counties.
Of the 80 towns and villages in Allegany and Cattaraugus counties, only eight will retain any AIM funding under the proposal.
In Cattaraugus County, the towns of Allegany, Dayton, Persia and Portville will retain funding — totaling $161,218 this year — while the villages of Delevan and Franklinville will also retain funding. Last year, Cattaraugus County towns received $443,491, while the county’s villages received $117,705.
The plan has met with a sharp rebuke from Republicans in the state Legislature, who more commonly represent rural areas in the state.
“The budgets of most local governments in New York State are stretched to the breaking point. The loss of any funds will only compound these difficulties,” said state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean. “That said, I am very concerned about the negative impact of the Governor’s proposed changes to the AIM funding.
“Under his proposal, most towns and villages in my district would lose all of their AIM funding which would present a tremendous hardship, particularly as they struggle to keep spending under the tax cap,” she added, noting that Senate Republicans will attempt to reverse the cuts.
Groups representing municipal officials also voiced their opposition to the plan.
"When it comes to local governments and the property tax, the Governor's budget fails to abide by its theme of ‘justice,’ as it would eliminate state aid for the vast majority of New York's smallest local governments,” said New York Council of Mayors Executive Director Peter Baynes. “If the goal this legislative session is to enact progressive tax reform, it will not be achieved by cutting local aid and removing municipalities' ability to follow through on their goal to reduce the regressive property tax burden.
“We urge state legislators to join NYCOM in the fight to restore these cuts, preserve the essential municipal services funded by this aid, and protect New Yorkers from state- induced increases in the regressive local property tax."
“Gov. Cuomo’s executive budget is another tough one for towns that have worked hard in recent years to provide essential services to taxpayers while making do with meager assistance from the state,” said Association of Towns Executive Director Gerry Geist, whose group represents town boards statewide. “Town officials are committed to making smart investments in communities statewide while keeping taxes in check. But any proposal to make the tax cap permanent must also take into account the fact that municipal aid has not increased in 10 years, and infrastructure funding through the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program has not kept pace with inflation.
“The Association of Towns will continue working with the governor and legislators to ensure that the final budget treats municipalities statewide with the fairness they deserve.”